Come into the Light!

Next month the live action version of Beauty and the Beast will be coming out in theaters. When my daughters were old enough, the original animated version, which came out in 1991,  became one of my favorite movies to watch with them. What could be more intriguing for a writer like me, than a heroine who liked books. It also helped that she was brave, selfless and caring, all qualities I wished I were (and still do). If you are not familiar with the story, it is a tale of love and sacrifice.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Belle is a young woman, living in a small French town. She aspires for more than "this provincial life." Her father is a small time inventor and on one of his trips to sell a new contraption, he becomes lost in the dark woods. When he is chased by wolves and it begins to rain, he finds his way to a hidden castle and goes inside. 

When her father does not come home for a few days, Belle becomes worried and goes to look for him. She happens upon the castle with the help of Philippe the horse and bravely enters to search for her father. She finds him in a dungeon cold and shivering. She wants to free him, but is unable to open the door to his cell. 

The Beast, who has heard of a new intruder in his castle, confronts Belle. She pleads for her father's life. The Beast is not interested in letting his prisoner go, at least not until Belle says that she will take her father's place.

The Beast asks with amazement, "You would take his place?"

"If I did, would you let him go?"

"Yes! But you must promise to stay here forever."

"Come into the light."

Obviously, what Belle saw was not promising to her future. She had no idea when the Beast yanked her father out of that cell if he was going to cook her up for dinner or have her stuffed and put on display in one of the many cavernous castle halls. What follows is a beautiful love story that transcends skin color and massive differences. 

The point I want to expand, is the idea of coming into the light. Wasn't it the light that enabled Belle to see the Beast as he truly was? Over time, however, we realize the light didn't just give her the ability to see his physical form, the light eventually revealed his true nature. He was a young prince who had been turned into a beast due to his selfishness and pride.  As the two became friends, they were able to see past the ugly differences that kept them apart. 

He reveals mysteries from the darkness And brings the deep darkness into light.
— Job 12:22 (NASB)

God is light. If we are to understand life and how to live it, we need to step into the light. We need to be pursuing God and who He is, so that we might understand what the darkness is not. Darkness is not warm, inviting or satisfying. Darkness is not pleasurable or life giving. Yes, God created the darkness for rest, but it seems those who love the darkness are doing anything, but resting.

The Beast was living in darkness. When Belle arrived he made a choice to step into the light. This choice led him down a path of love and eventually redemption. We are faced with the same choice. Are we going to step into the light or are we going to remain in the darkness? Remaining in darkness is a choice that will result in confusion, fumbling and eventually death. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
— Psalm 27:1 (NASB)

God's word, the Bible, tells us, the Lord is our light and our salvation. It doesn't say that our own knowledge is our light, or that man's wisdom is the light. Jesus Himself also declared He is the light. 

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
— John 8:12 (NASB)

The key here is that we have to follow Him and pursue Him. Let's face it, life can be overwhelming. In the last five days two dear women I know lost their husbands to heart failure. Both of these women walk in the light. They know to whom to turn during this terrible time of loss and grief. It is the light, His light that will give them the strength to go on when life is so dark.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
— Psalm 9:10 (NASB)

Where are you at today? Are you struggling in the darkness? Do you feel that you have been thrown into the dungeon of some beast with fangs? Step into His light. He will guide you out. He will bring life and love out of the darkness.

The song below was written as a Christmas song, but it is worth the listen at any time. Come into the light!

Light Beyond the Darkness

As the days begin to shorten and I realize the seasons are about to change again, I grow more reflective of the seasons of life. I am sure it is because I am getting older. Age has a tendency to make us more aware of our limitations, weaknesses and failed plans. But it also has the capacity to make us more aware of what is really important and help us to focus on our blessings rather than our difficulties.

sunset over the river

As we were driving this evening the sun was getting low on the horizon. Though I didn't see it actually set I could tell, it was going to be spectacular. The sky was streaked with brushstrokes of cloud residue. So often when that happens the sun reflects off the clouds in a brilliant display of orange, pink, red and purple. I have found in my 50 plus years fall sunsets can be some of the most stunning.

As I looked at the beauty the Master Painter created for our good pleasure, I thought about the sunsets of life. Sometimes, when we know the darkness is coming we grow anxious and fearful. The realization hit me, however, that we would not have the stunning sunsets if darkness did not come. We would not have some of the spectacular sunrises either. Darkness is a part of the cycle God put into place to bring rest and repose.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the sky displays his handiwork.
2 Day after day it speaks out;
night after night it reveals his greatness.
3 There is no actual speech or word,
nor is its voice literally heard.
4 Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;
its words carry to the distant horizon.
In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun.
— Psalm 19:1 - 4 (NET)

Darkness is the absence of light. That could refer to the light of day, the light of a candle or that of an electric light bulb. Darkness can also refer to a lack of understanding. There are times in life when, not only does the way seem dark, but we also travel the path without understanding. We need to remember that outside of the darkness there is light. 

I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
— John 12:46 (NASB)

If you are in a house, board up all the windows and cover those with room darkening drapes, you will be in the dark, but the light is still glowing outside of your house. If you descend into a cave with no flashlight or matches and candle, you will be in the dark, but the light is still glowing up on the surface.

To me, what seems the most overwhelming about darkness is the absence of light. If I can't see the light, I feel as though I am suffocating and all of life is about to end. But the reality is, light is still glowing, I just have to remember that. When I come to terms with the fact that I am closer to seeing the sun set, than I am to seeing the sun rise and I can remember that just the other side of that darkness I am about to face there is light....perhaps it will go easier.

Pixabay

Pixabay

When God's face seems hidden by the darkness or by the clouds, remember that Jesus is walking on the tops of those clouds. When the path seems dark, perhaps is it best to stop walking for a while, stop fumbling in the dark. Take a deep breath, sit a spell and remember He is the light.

Jesus said of Himself, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12 - NASB)

Lessons in the Dark

I find inspiration for my writing in the oddest places, but then I guess that is what makes writing for me so much fun. I can look at a situation and think, "Oh cool! I could write about this or that!" I suppose it is something akin to a photographer or an artist finding inspiration in something as grand as a sunset or as simple as a bowl of fruit. The grand things of life are full of titillating word choices and descriptive metaphors, but how do I take the simple things and find beauty in them? It really comes down to perspective. 

Photo Credit  Valerie Boltneva  on StockSnap

Photo Credit Valerie Boltneva on StockSnap

The apostle Paul knew about perspective. He went from being a vehement hater of Christians to being the foremost authority on Jesus Christ. Paul went from the darkness of not knowing Christ to the light of knowing and being fully known and loved by that same One he had early on, persecuted.

When we were packing up our campsite Friday morning we noticed a particularly strange smell emanating from beneath our tent. We noticed it as we took out the tent poles and stakes and began rolling up the tent. My husband is a pro at problem solving, he teaches logic after all! He stuck his nose right next to the tent floor as he was rolling it up. Then he brought it over to me and said, "Smell!" Hesitantly, I stuck my nose to the floor of the tent. It didn't smell at all. 

We had placed a large piece of black plastic as a ground cloth beneath the tent to help preserve the floor and keep moisture, sand and gravel from making our clean up more laborious. When we pulled the plastic back to start cleaning it off we were disgusted by the smell and the number of species of creepy crawlies that had taken up residence beneath our canvas condo! Eeeeewwwwww!

My spouse quickly decided we really did not need to keep that black plastic, rolled it up and promptly placed it in the garbage. While he walked the short distance to the camp garbage cans I looked at the space our tent had previously occupied. It was wet with condensation from camping in the hot Florida sun. The bugs were quickly finding other dark places to hide or being eaten by some of the many anole lizards that resided in the camp's palm, sand and myrtle oak trees. I was shocked to find in the middle of all this putrefaction a tiny frog. As an average citizen, who gets a good percent of my knowledge off the internet, it appeared to be a Squirrel Tree frog. When I noticed him, he was a light tan color, blending in perfectly with the sand and gravel under our tent.

I'm sure this little guy didn't comprehend the danger he was in when he wiggled his way under our tent. We have no idea how long he had been there, but it was obvious he had gone under there to feast! It was a bug buffet and he was getting in for free. I realized as I looked at this odd little creature that my husband or I could have stepped on him and never even known!

That tiny little frog, who simply makes our lives better by eating lots of bugs taught me some very important lessons. First of all, there is danger in living at the beck and call of our appetites. The frog is merely doing what its God given tendencies tell it to do, in other words finding creepy breakfast food in dark, moist places. But how often do I give in to my appetites? In all honesty, daily. I struggle with eating well, exercising, not spending too much and so on. Many people struggle with "bugs" that are much bigger and more addicting that my own, and their living at least part of their life in the moist darkness of putrefaction. The greater our lives are lived in darkness the less we will know and identify with the light.

Photo Credit  Matthew Wiebe  on StockSnap

Photo Credit Matthew Wiebe on StockSnap

That brings me to another important lesson learned from the frog: just because it is available, doesn't mean it is necessarily what is best for you. There are all sorts of delicacies available to wet our appetites. Food, entertainments, sex are all things that can be good when used in the appropriate ways under the appropriate circumstances, but living under the tent floor can make a person forget what is good.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’
— John 8:12 (NASB)

Our little frog friend had a somewhat baffled look on his face when we pulled off that black plastic and exposed him to the light. I've seen people look that way, when they start hearing the words of Jesus from the Bible. The frog, of course went about his way, slowly crawling across the open space and hopefully back to a place of safety. But people don't have to listen. They don't have to care whether they are under the tent floor, dangerously close to getting squashed. They can just keep on feeding their appetites oblivious to the dangers looming over them.

Get out of the darkness and back into the light. As His creation that is exactly where we belong!