Wednesday, February 13, 2019

When Darkness Seems Impenetrable

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
John 1:5
Recently, while traveling, we ate breakfast in our hotel dining room.  We knew the minute we walked in that the room was charged with a negative tone.  Everyone was frowning.  Even the breakfast employee had an angry scowl on her face.  The room was crowded—probably about 20 to 30 people coming and going, as I meandered around and made my way through the crowd to fill my plate. I tried so hard to make eye contact. With someone.  Anyone.  I had a huge, beaming smile that I so longed to share with any person who would look at me.  Many were seated at tables, some tapping phones, some seated across from loved ones who weren't looking at each other.  There was not one person in that room who seemed happy or joyful.  Everything in me wanted to make a positive difference.  I wanted them to know that there is a way to find real, true, authentic joy.  I wanted to show them how much it bubbles up inside me and how it forces a genuine smile, even when I don't feel like smiling.  I wanted them to see JESUS—I so wanted them to see Him through a live, physical demonstration.  But, not one person would even give me the opportunity.

After I made my way to and was seated at our table, I sat there, puzzled and perplexed. There was such a pervading cold, unfriendly vibe that seemed to hang like a thick, foreboding cloud in that place, and it frustrated me to no end that I was unable to penetrate it with kindness. Then, I looked down at the t-shirt I was wearing, and a thought crept into my mind. Softly enough for only those at our table to hear, I whispered, "Maybe it's my t-shirt?" Zach bought it for me for Mother's Day, and I love its message. It is such an amazing witness.

An amazing witness, yes, but could those who don't feel the same way about Jesus that I do find it offensive?  Whether the message on my t-shirt had anything to do with my inability to connect with anyone or not, the thought of the possibility got me thinking about how our society is permeated with such disdain for Christianity.  There is a powerful spirit of antiChrist that has infiltrated our world.  
(And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.  I John 4:3)  It started when our Lord was here on the earth, and instead of lessening, all these years later, it has strengthened and become more emboldened, it seems.  It saddens my heart because the light of the Gospel is the only message that will ever make a difference in the lives of those who are unhappy.  It is the only thing powerful enough to break through the steely walls of darkness that have become such a stronghold in our world.  It is up to us to share God's love through the kindness we show and to disprove any misconceptions about who Jesus really is, but when we are around those whose minds are closed and we aren't given an open door to demonstrate who He is, how will we ever make them see?  

Alas, the three of us left that dreary dining room with my mission to make a positive difference completely unaccomplished. I felt so vexed in spirit as we walked down the hall talking, each of us discussing the gloomy atmosphere we had just left. It is still bothering me, all these days later.

It is bothering me enough to cause me to become more determined than ever to keep trying. To not give up just because I failed the last time I tried. To be kind, in spite of who rejects that kindness. To minister, even when the sacrifice is unappreciated or even unnoticed. To love, even when I am despised in return. To smile, even when no one makes eye contact or chooses to return that smile. To verbally compliment one good thing about the person who is so incredibly rude. To speak a word of encouragement to every person I encounter throughout the day. To make sincerely empathetic eye contact with everyone I chance to meet. To reject the thought that I am just one person and what I do will never make a dent in the hate-filled, mean-spiritedness that pervades our society. Isn't all of this what Jesus did? What His Divine nature within us cries out to STILL do?

What if we dared to press through the overwhelming, unprecedented resistance and made up our minds to choose Jesus' path every time? How different would our world be? Sure, there will be those times when it feels like we walk away and leave evil-charged atmospheres the exact same way we found them, but is that reason to throw up our hands and pre-judge every future circumstance we find ourselves in?

I want to challenge you to continue to press through whatever evil resistance you encounter, and choose goodness, in spite of what you see. Be the one to bring the light of Jesus' love into every darkened corner that comes across your path. Choose to keep overcoming evil with good, even when you feel the complete opposite of an overcomer. Do the right thing regardless what everyone else is doing.

Light will always dispel darkness, and darkness can never extinguish light. They thought they ended goodness when they laid our Savior's blood-soaked, tortured-beyond-recognition, lifeless body in the tomb. But, praise His wonderful name, He proved them all wrong three days later, and He came out of that grave alive, never to die again! The power that raised Him is inside each one of us, as believers who are filled with His Spirit!

"...having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come."  Ephesians 1:18-21 (ESV)

"And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power."  
I Corinthians 6:14 (KJV)

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us..."  Ephesians 3:20 (KJV)

Same Power ~ Jeremy Camp

You've got His power, so, keep shining His light!
Allow the power of the Spirit of Jesus inside of you to have full access and control.
Yield to His nudges, and boldly do everything He prompts you to do.
Even when it doesn't appear to be making the slightest difference, press on.
Keep trying.  Keep persevering.  Crucify your flesh and feelings.  
Don't let past defeated missions dissuade you from setting out on new attempts.  
As the old saying goes, Christians are the only Bible some people will ever read.  
What are they reading when they peruse our behavior?  
If we were put on trial for being Christians, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Galatians 6:9 (KJV)