One night, when I was a little boy growing up on a farm in Mississippi, my uncle sent me across the road from our old stone farmhouse to the barn. We had this not-so-powerful porchlight that was casting its glow just to the barn wall, so I didn’t think I needed a flashlight.
The single bulb grew dimmer and dimmer the farther I got from the house. Because I was walking away from the light, my shadow began to widen in front of me and created a sort of double-darkness right in my path.
Of course, I was barefoot. All my cousins and I always were as soon as spring hit. Nearing the barn, I looked down midstride and saw a tiny spark of light glinting off of something just below my foot as I raised it to take the next step.
Then I saw them. Hundreds of spikes were sticking up at me at an angle. I pulled my foot back at the last second, coming within inches of impaling it on the spikes. The harrow, a spike machine we used to break up clods of earth after plowing, was upside down right in front of me.
On either side of the harrow, I could see the grass in the porchlight, but because my shadow fell right in front of where I was walking, I couldn’t see the harrow itself until I was on top of it. I still remember that night with vivid detail because the Holy Spirit used it to teach me four specific things.
The first thing my encounter with the harrow showed me was that I couldn’t see through my shadow in the Mississippi night without a flashlight. Only light can overcome darkness. Only the light of Jesus can overcome spiritual darkness. The Messiah proclaims, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life… I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 8:12, 12:46).
Second, if the porch light had been off, I would surely have taken a flashlight with me to the barn. I did not think I needed light until I was in a high degree of darkness. Sometimes in our spiritual lives, God, in His mercy, deepens the darkness so that we will realize the importance of His light. Jesus came “through the tender mercy of our God… to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78-79, NKJV).
Third, as I walked away from the porchlight, my shadow fell in front of me, so I was walking in double darkness. But when I turned back to the house, I was walking toward the porchlight, so my shadow fell behind me and left the path in front of me bright. If you’re walking away from spiritual light, you’re walking in the darkness of your own shadow – the shadow of self. If you’re walking toward spiritual light, your shadow becomes a sign others can follow into the light. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light… And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them… Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:8, 11, 14).
The fourth and final thing the harrow taught me was that it’s not easy to be the only one awake in the middle of the night, tromping through the darkness, trying to avoid the spikes. But if the world is to see the sunrise of great awakening, God first desires to wake his children while it is still dark so that He can use us to awaken the world to the endless sunrise of light in Him: “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus” (Acts 26:18).
Are we seeing evidence in our everydays that there is enough light in the Jesus we worship to overcome all darkness? If not, maybe the trouble is not the degree of the darkness around us, but the shallowness of our faith in The Light of the World. Among Jesus’ final words to his disciples before His crucifixion were these: “Soon I will leave this world and they will see me no longer, but you will see me, because I will live again, and you will come alive too. So when that day comes, you will know that I am living in the Father and that you are one with me, for I will be living in you… Whoever passionately loves me will be passionately loved by my Father. And I will passionately love you in return and will manifest my life within you” (John 14:19-21, TPT).
Our Savior will not fail to overcome darkness with light. How can we doubt with “Christ in us, the hope of glory?” (Colossians 1:27).
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