I checked my gear one last time, switched on the lamp on my helmet, and glanced back over my shoulder one last time, squinting at the sunshine streaming into the entrance of the cave.
One by one we headed into the opening in the rocks. As a camp counselor at a Christian camp, this was a pre-camp opportunity. I'd always wanted to try spelunking, but until now, hadn't had the opportunity. I listened intently to our guide's instructions, lest I be labeled a "cave-buffoon" for doing something utterly stupid. We would all have to work together.
We repelled down rocky crags that took us deeper and deeper into the belly of the cave. In some passages we belly crawled, like a long, slow moving centipede, snaking our way through the narrow tunnels. We deliberately and meticulously chose our steps in order to push through tight openings.
Just when I thought we had to be heading into a dead end, the narrow artery opened up into a huge vaulted chamber. I pointed my headlamp around in order to take in my surroundings. The clusters of sharp pointed daggers (or stalactites) hung precariously from the ceiling above me. Millions of slow calcium carbonate drips had crystalized over time, forming these ominous structures.
The waterfall-like limestone flows varied in size and looked eerily translucent and radiated a certain blue-green fluorescence when the light shone upon them.
The presence of light illuminated this dark underworld and made the widely varying speleothem (cave formations) come alive. Stalactites, stalagmites, gypsum flowers, helictites, cave pearls, water-filled sumps, popcorn, and a whole host of artistic creations left me breathless.
At this point in our journey we took a break and our guide invited us to gather around in a circle. His voiced echoed off the walls. "One by one I want you to turn off your headlamps. Go slowly," he directed.
When only one or two lamps went dark, it didn't make a huge difference, but halfway around our circle of light-going-dark, the light in the cavern noticeably dimmed. Finally we were down to one lamp still lighted. As long as this lamp stayed lit, there was hope. We could see our guide, each other, our way out.
The last lamp went out and our guide said, "You are now experiencing absolute and complete absence of light...utter darkness." I felt my chest tighten a bit and my breathing became more shallow. The longer it remained dark and I felt the nothingness envelope me, I heard mysterious sounds and began to feel discomfort that bumped up against fear. My heart grew anxious for the light to return.
Anxious anticipation grew into yearning and desperation for the light to shine once again. Seconds seemed like hours. How long was I going to have to remain in the dark? I wanted the light. I wanted it NOW!
Our guide's deep voice broke the silence. He spoke deliberately, "Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)
He continued, voice calm and authoritative in the darkness, "The Light shines in the darkness, and darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)
"Know this," he continued, But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
By this point, I was literally shaking. I wanted the light back. I yearned for the light that I too often took for granted. It struck me that I have "The Light" (Jesus and His Word) always available to me, yet, I ignore Him and I get sidetracked and forget to pick up my Bible. I choose darkness. That thought scared me.
I needed to yearn for "Jesus the Light" like I was yearning for light to break the unbearable darkness in the cave.
This Advent season, I NEED the light of Christ in my life. I look around me and the world is becoming more and more like utter darkness and absence of light. The headlamps are going out. I've become somewhat numb to the evil that prevails in our culture. Wrong has become right, evil has become good, death has become life, and "true north" has ceased to exist. I need to do my part to not let the light be snuffed out...
Dear Jesus, please come. Make your home in my heart and teach me to abide in You. Teach me your precepts. O how I long to dwell in your holy word. Let me hunger and yearn for it like I yearn for the light in the darkness. Your word is a lamp unto my feet and your love is hope for my dying heart. Renew in me a spirit that is on fire for you and that revels in the joy that your salvation brings. Let me bask in Advent - the glorious moment before the miracle. Jesus, I adore you. Have mercy on me. Thank you for being God with me...Emmanuel. It's in your precious name I pray. Amen.
What about you? Are you actively choosing to live in the "Light"? If not, what keeps you from doing so? Do priorities need to change? What does Jesus coming into the world mean to you, personally? Will you share...
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