The Lesson of the Illumination

IlluminationThe event behind this lesson occurred in the continuation of the prayer that opens The Lesson of the Pain, the same prayer that revealed a need greater than the obvious one for which I originally had sought prayer. After questioning me about my relationship with my father, the pastor returned to his God-led prayer for me, as I stood before him with my eyes closed.

Absorbed by an awareness of the hands that were upon me in support of the prayer, I remember nothing about what was actually prayed, but only the prayer’s result. For as I stood with my eyes tightly closed, I was suddenly blinded by a light so bright that my body reeled backward and my eyes flung open in one quick, reflexive reaction. I was so stunned that I didn’t say a word. I had no idea what to say. I couldn’t even think.

In that tiny fraction of time, God altered my life far beyond my comprehension, changing me for eternity. For, in that moment, the grace of God illuminated His Being—His Existence and His Presence, drawing me to Him.

In the days and years to come, I would find myself immersed in the Word of God. By His direct intervention (See The Life of the Cross), I read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament three times in a period of seven months. His Word had become alive to me, and little, if any, did I understand that His Word was instilling life in me by the power that inhabits the Truth itself.

God revealed the connection between light and life in His first recorded spoken words of the Bible, which were spoken in creation. “And God said, ‘Let there be light.’” After this we are told that “and then there was light.” (Genesis 1:3a&b) Young’s Literal Translation says, “‘Let light be,’ and light is.”

But there is more to this verse than what first meets the eye. According to a variety of concordances, the Hebrew word that translates here as “light” does not refer simply to physical light. The stars, sun and moon that provide natural light were indeed formed later, on creation’s fourth day (however one wishes to define “day”), as a part of God’s declaration that brought the physical universe into being.

But the complete meaning of the word “light” is much more than that. It means “illumination or luminary” in every sense. The word encompasses all intellectual and spiritual enlightenment,  as well as the sun, lightening, etc.

In God’s first words to us, we have the Gift of God Himself, given to every man, woman and child who would ever be:  the Gift of the Person of Jesus Christ, who is the Light of  the World (John 8:12) —the coming Messiah, the Source of all Radiance, the One who would deliver us out of the darkness of ignorance and into the knowledge of the Truth of God, the One who would light the Way Home by and with our Father’s love. God said everything that needed to be said in His first few words, providing for all that would yet be.

John substantiates the all-inclusiveness of the Bible’s first words, opening His Gospel with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-3)

God and His Word are inseparable. They are One. To know One is to know the Other, and to disavow either is to disavow them both. Belief in God requires belief in His Living Word:  the resurrected Christ Jesus to whom the Bible points in glorification of God the Father.

The Bible (the God-directed recorded Word of God) makes known all Truth to everyone who receives (accepts, not just reads) it for what it is:  the Truth spoken for our benefit and God’s exaltation, delivering knowledge of God to all of mankind. In our openness to receive the Truth, to believe God, God activates His Word in us to glorify Himself. As He so chooses, His power flows through His Word in the presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit, who interjects the life of the Word into our very beings. Jesus said, “The words I have spoken are Spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63b)

They are indeed life. Without the Word of God (Jesus Christ), we have no life in us. (See John 6:53.) Unbeknownst to us, we are then “dead men,” walking in the darkness of ignorance, headed toward a variety of deaths.

But when we receive the Word of God, welcoming Its Truth into us, we also welcome the Spirit of God, who is present in His Word. Thereby, we receive more of God’s life that transforms our own, both now and for eternity. For every bit of Truth that enters us, beyond substantiating the Truth that is already in us, either fills a gap created by ignorance or replaces a lie (anything not true). Either can unknowingly lead to confusion, destruction and death in assorted ways.

The more alive we are made by Truth, the more alive we want to be. We can’t get enough of God’s Word. We can’t get enough life, for life breeds a desire for more of itself.

No wonder that, as we realize more of God’s life in us, we find ourselves declaring along with Jeremiah, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

No greater joy exists than that of bearing the name of God in Christ Jesus. That is the Truth with which we are enlightened, causing the desires of this world to fade away in comparison. This is how born again Christians come to know—really know/experience—the joy of the Lord in the midst of trials. Nothing in this world can detract from the magnitude and permanency of the joy of the Lord that comes from personal experience with Him. (Distract temporarily, yes; but detract, never.)

Anytime that we find our joy being overshadowed by the cares of this world, we need only to return to God’s Word, allowing His Light to spotlight the Truth that lives within us. In doing so, His Light shines through us, making us beacons that draw others closer to Him, just as His Heart desires. Even in times of difficulty, we become luminaries, not by effort or self-will, but by submission to the Truth.

Jesus stated clearly, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32)  All men… in all the earth… seeing the Truth of God, as Jesus shines down upon us… shining through our transparency to reveal more of the Father’s glory.

The “Light of the World” revealed the power of the Light that He carries, having said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). There is no place that the Light will not go or cannot go to overcome the darkness that holds men’s hearts captive to sin. No sin is too great, no secret too hidden, to remain impervious to the Light’s Presence. The Light of the Truth of God’s love overwhelms every heart that it touches to replace condemnation with forgiveness and mercy.

Recently, I walked past two individuals who were engaged in conversation at the moment that one commented to the other, “…but people aren’t blinded by a light any more, as Paul was. Those kinds of things don’t happen these days.” My mind, as well as my ears, perked up as I continued to my destination.

Later, a revision of Romans 10:14 came to mind:  How can men expect to experience the truth that they have not believed? How can they believe the truth that they have not heard? And how can they hear the truth that has not been shared by those who are living it?

God can only pack so much of His infinite Self into our finite minds and lives, so He gives each of us a taste of Himself in this life with a promise of more to come. Therefore, many aspects of our faith must be accepted by just that:  faith in the Truth that we have not personally experienced ourselves. Following His resurrection, Jesus said to his disciples, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) We are to believe not only in the Person of Jesus and His resurrection, but in everything that He represents:  all He is, always has been and always will be.

Throughout the creation account in Genesis 1, we read the words, “God said,,,” followed shortly thereafter by the words “God saw…” repeated time and again. “God said… and God saw… God said… and God saw… God said… and God saw…” As God spoke, His Word came to be. The manifestation of His declaration became experiential in this world by the work of the Spirit. It always does, one way or another. For God is “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17b) …and they are.

God has no doubt regarding the finality of His Word, and we shouldn’t, either. The knowledge of God is destined indeed to cover the Earth as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

John, to whom God gave the vision of Revelation, spoke of the New Jerusalem to come, saying that “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb [Jesus Christ] is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23, brackets mine)

The Light of God is Truth Eternal. It can never dim nor be extinguished. Whether we see the Light in this life as a blinding flash or as a flicker of hope, it is real. It is God revealed.

The manner in which the Light of God reaches us is not important, for God’s ways are beyond our ways. He knows best. Through the interconnection of our relationships that He develops, God spreads the Truth of Himself through the works that He has prepared for each of us to do. (See Ephesians 2:10) God both sends the Light and enables us to see it—to believe the Truth that the Light reveals. Our role is to look to the Light and not to close our eyes to it, ignoring the Truth.

But then again, my eyes actually were closed when the Light came to me, weren’t they?

And that didn’t stop the Truth from coming, did it?

In fact, God used the darkness to His advantage. He always does. After all, He is God:  Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent (All-Knowing, All-Powerful and All-Present).

As He has said, “light is”“I Am.” (See Exodus 3:14.)

Coming from God’s mouth, He only needs to say so once. Any repetition is for our benefit, our ongoing education. Only He knows how much we still have to learn, how far we have yet to go… lightyears, no doubt.

But lit by the Radiance of His Glory, we’ll never mistake His Way for less than what it is:  the Source of all Light.

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“the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”  (Matthew 4:16)

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