“The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” (Ps. 27:1-2).
One of the chief reasons why so many people are unsaved, and why they fear God more than the devil, is that they do not know Him. For the natural man nothing has been so distorted as God. Satan, sin, and an evil conscience are master teachers in the art of presenting a perverted picture of God.
One of the reasons why Christian people enter spiritual darkness and think that God is backward in His ways is that they do not know Him well. It happens more than once that Christians for this reason wish and pray for what is contrary to the will of God.
When something disagreeable falls to our lot we beg God to spare us. We promise to serve Him more faithfully if He will only release us from that which we deem to be a misfortune. But God does not exempt us from this suffering even though we beg Him with tears. It seems that He does not hear our prayers and that He hardens Himself against our tears. We forget that we who have committed ourselves to God with all that we have and are, will have to be satisfied with God’s will even when it seems to be going in the wrong direction.
Sometimes we discover after such experiences that God’s way was the best way. That which we least of all wanted to happen to us, but which God nevertheless permitted to come our way, brought us some of the greatest blessings we have had.
However, most of the sad and disagreeable experiences that we have had will remain unsolvable riddles until we see the solution in the light of eternity with God. We can be certain of this that we shall see that all of God’s ways were good and righteous altogether. Our whole being will then be one continuous song of praise in gratitude to Him Who doeth all things well.
* * *
The danger of misunderstanding God is never so great as it is when He sends His light to us.
We all know that light expels darkness. When darkness has disappeared we see that which was hidden before. As light increases we see more and more. If we happen to come to a strange place just as day is dawning we can see houses, furniture, and such larger objects. When full light appears we can see that which is much smaller. But when full sunlight streams into the room we can see still more; we can see the millions of tiny particles that float about in the shaft of sunlight. Light has put darkness to flight, and we can see even the tiniest objects that under darkness were invisible to us.
When the light of God shines into our soul something similar happens; we see just how we are, and that is not a pleasant experience for any human being.
You who are as yet not a Christian, pay attention to this: When you see that you are lost, earthbound, sinful and unconverted; when you realize that you are drawn toward the bottomless pit; when you have to admit to yourself that you are on the road to eternal perdition — then the light has begun to shine into your soul.
Do you know that?
I didn’t know it. I thought that it was Satan who was drawing me away from God and into the darkness on the brink of eternal death. I thought God had deserted me; I did not realize that He had never been closer to me than just then.
This has also been the experience of many others.
When you have a fairly good opinion of yourself; when you see the sins of others and not your own; when your conscience is at ease in godless company, not accusing you of sin; when no cry for help rises from your bosom — then you are in darkness.
Young man and young lady whom I meet through these words:
When tears fall silently upon your pillow at night; when you cannot sleep for remorse over the sins you have committed; when you long for a better life and purer joys — then the Lord is your light.
Take this truth with you into life; then you will meet the Savior in the most unexpected places. The light of life will then draw you to Him, and Satan will not deceive you by changing light into darkness.
God is light for His people in a special way. In the first place He sends the light into the secret chambers of the heart. There we see what no one else can see; we look into the abyss of folly and sin. God seems to say to us: “This you ought not have done. You should not have punished your child in that way. It was not the Spirit of God that directed your hand and your tongue. The thoughts you now harbor are not of God; if you follow them you will be sorry. What you said about your neighbor you ought not to have said. You have been worldly and spiritually dull; you do not mind the things of God as you used to do.”
You see all this — yes, you see much more than words can express. You peer into the farthest recesses of your thought life, and discover that you secretly love sin; you see an ocean of wickedness, weakness, and spiritual poverty.
Then the Lord is your light.
Some Christians have progressed so far in sanctification that they notice the very dust of sin that settles upon their lives. The Christian who has learned to “dust” his life with the grace of God has found the secret of holy living.
When the Lord lets His light shine upon us there are two paths open to us. The one leads downward into a powerless and fruitless life; it ends in death. The other leads upward into a more perfect piety and peace of heart. All Christians are found on one or the other of these paths.
I shall call the first one the alibi path. Those who walk upon it reason something like this: Who is perfect in the world? Are we not all sinners? Do we not all need grace? Paul, one of the best Christians that has ever lived, complained of a thorn in the flesh and an angel of Satan that struck him; can we then hope to be better? Do we not all have faults and weaknesses? I have mine, and another has his. For that matter it is not all my fault either; if others were in my shoes they would have fared no better. If I have faults, so have others.
These are songs that are sung along the alibi path. They are the gospel songs of Satan. These people use grace as a license to sin rather than to heal the wound caused by sin.
All of us are tempted on this point. If we cannot manage to resist sin, we permit ourselves to sink into a weak and withering inactivity. We suffer from spiritual paralysis. We have light, but not salvation; the reason is that we are constantly seeking alibis for our folly.
This is not God’s way; it is a trickery of Satan.
The other way is the truth-acknowledgement path.
On this path are the Christians who from the heart acknowledge sin, folly, and evil deeds. Without trying to hide their guilt, they admit that they are sinners. Such a Christian reasons thus: It is I who have failed in Christian living. My words and deeds are evil. Lord, it is I who lack control over my words and thoughts and indomitable temper. It is I who have neglected my Bible and prayer chamber. It is I who fail as a Christian in my own home. My gloomy, narrow, bitter disposition is stronger in me than the spirit of Christ. It is all my fault.
This is the truth-acknowledgement path.
Into such a soul the Holy Spirit places an earnest desire for help. For such people it is unspeakably good to get off into a corner all by themselves to admit everything to God. And He who gives grace to the humble is not slow to wipe away the tear and lift the burden from the heart.
Here sin is not excused, but admitted and placed before the mercy seat; the balm of grace is placed upon the aching heart. Here light and salvation blend together into one glorious truth in an honest Christian life. The Father of light invites such souls into the salvation in Christ.
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
“The Lord is my light and salvation.”
“He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither.”
Blessed is the Christian who walks on this path.
* * *
The Lord is a light for our feet and a lamp for our path.
The future frequently looks dark for a Christian, but he who is upright will have success. The Lord has been a light for us so that we still are on His paths. Without God’s light even the Christians would be in darkness.
Never mind that He has not promised to light your path for many miles at once. Let it suffice that we have enough for the next step.
When life’s last evening descends upon us and we become frightened in the valley of shadows, He will keep His promise to all the faithful:
“It shall come to pass that at evening time there shall be light.”
Christian friends! Even we look forward to death with fearful forebodings. But let us take comfort from the assurance that when the Lord summons us He will also send us light; then we can go through the valley of shadows with courage and joy. In the light of God’s countenance from the other side we shall see our true fatherland.
This God has promised to His own.
At that time we shall all meet before God’s face in the land where the light never goes out. All who meet Christ in the light of grace shall on that great day sparkle in His glory-light. Then it shall no longer be light and salvation, but light and life.
Who is sufficient to speak of this? Words are too weak to express such glory, and our thoughts fall short. But we will cling to the promise which God has given us; we will rejoice in the hope of that great day when our eyes for the first time shall see the land where light and life blend without a trace of shadow.
You who did not accept God’s offer of salvation: You too shall step into God’s light on that great day; in that light your whole life shall be unrolled as a scroll. Then you shall see what you are and what you might have been. In that light you shall also have to depart from God.
The light shall then become a consuming fire. This is hell. This is to be lost.
Friend! Pause. Consider. Be converted. There is still time for that.
Copyright 2021 Hauge Lutheran Innermission Federation. All Rights Reserved.