As I awakened and began to think about this column, the darkness of the night still lingered quietly. I pondered the coming weekend and the holiday when, all at once, I heard a small, but strong chirp of the first morning bird. Then, came the coo of the mourning dove. The chirp and the coo came a good hour before the darkness began to dissipate. I thought of the hope those little birds had in the darkness. The hope that daylight is on its way.
Have you ever been there? I mean in the darkness? Have you ever stood in the literal dark when you couldn't see your hand in front of your face? I remember touring the underground lake near Chattanooga, Tenn., many years ago. I believe it was called the Lost Sea. The tour consisted of walking down into a deep and dark cavern and then riding a glass bottom boat in the lake. As we began the decent into the cavern, the tour guide asked us to stop. He continued, saying that he wanted to show us what real darkness felt like. I didn't care for his idea and was not amused. I held my baby girl so tight. She was already in her front carrier I wore, but I placed my hand on her head and drew her as close as close, as if to protect her from the dark that was to come. Then, he did it. He turned all the lights out and literally, you could not see your hand in front of your face. We all froze and were silent. The discomfort could be sensed among the tourists, and then, the lights came back on and we continued our tour.
Life is like that sometimes, you know. Sometimes the darkness comes all at once. We are plunged into it and are frozen. Sometimes it is a gradual descent into the dark. No matter how we get there, we need to remember that all of the cliches, no matter how overused they might be, are true. "It is always darkest before the dawn." "There is light at the end of the tunnel." We must become like my little bird and the mourning dove that followed. We need to sing in the darkness and the light will come. Oh, the light will come whether or not we sing, but wouldn't you rather live with hope?
I cannot help but think of that morning at Jesus' tomb. His followers, including his own mother, had witnessed the horrific scene that had taken place. An earth-shaking event (literally) had happened. The Son of God had been crucified. He was different from the men on both sides of him and the disciples knew it. He was innocent. And, he gave his life. He didn't fight them nor take of their medicine to numb the pain. The darkness that must have settled in around them must have been surreal.
However, after three days, and while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene "came early." The tomb was open! The stone was rolled away. Stunned, Mary ran and got Peter and another disciple. Finding the tomb empty, Peter went inside. There he saw Jesus' grave clothes lying aside and his face cloth folded neatly. He and the other disciples returned to their homes. I'm not sure what they were thinking, but the darkness must have engulfed them to first lose their Savior and now even lose his body? Mary stayed and stood weeping, grieving her loss.
Then, all at once she heard a voice asking her why she was crying. She replied, "because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Then, she turned around and saw Jesus, but didn't recognize him until he spoke her name. "Mary!"
Immediately she recognized him and ran and clung to him. Jesus told her to let go of him that he must ascend unto his father, but to go tell the disciples that he had risen. She ran and told them she had seen the risen Lord. That same evening Jesus appeared to the disciples and said to them: "Peace be unto you." Then, he said, "As my Father has sent me, so send I you." Then, he breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit.
Dear friends, when darkness comes into our lives, it is indeed so that the light may shine. The dawn will break through, and we will see that knowing the story of our risen lord gives us the essence of hope. Then, placing our hope and trust in him, brings new life and true hope. Hope that this life is not all there is and hope that we can live victoriously in this life. That is why Jesus gave his holy spirit to anyone who receives him: so that we might have hope and comfort. Another name for Jesus is Prince of Peace. Will you find true and lasting hope, and peace through the risen savior today? Just as Zachias, the little man who climbed a tree to see Jesus, then invited him "into" his home, so may we "invite him into our hearts." When we invite him into our life, he comes and breaks through the darkness and gives us true life on earth and for eternity.
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a wife and homeschool mom in Elkins. She is a counselor with Cornerstone Christian Counseling and co- founder with her husband, Jamie, of Kristin's Hope, a not-for-profit ministry to help the victims of human trafficking and domestic violence along with troubled youth in the Appalachian Mountains. Contact her at: 304-637-1109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)