They laughed and danced and fought over glow sticks. They enjoyed it and all climbed into bed happily clutching their glow sticks in their hands, once we told them they could not, in fact, wear the necklaces to sleep.
After our team meeting, I took a quick shower and climbed into my bunk, relishing the cool of the air conditioner. I grabbed my iPad to continue reading Christine Caine's Undaunted before I went to sleep.
Bloggy friends, this just happened to be where I found myself:
"Once in a Walmart, Nick and I bought Sophia a flashlight of her very own. Sophia flipped on the one we thought would work best, trying it out. But none of us could see even a little glow. The flourescent lights of the store were too bright; the flashlight's meager light was swallowed up.
'Oh Mummy,' Sophia pled, 'can we please go find some darkness?'
Can we please go find some darkeness?
From the mouth of babes comes the wisdom of Christ.
Darkness is everywhere. We live in a world full of fear and in need of light."
An exclamation point on what had just transpired there in my evening. Because as we handed the children those glow sticks we had to find some darkness to enjoy what we had planned.
Not to mention the analogy of the bigger picture that I had chosen to leave my life for a few days to try to be a light in the lives of these children. Jumping into that unchartered territory for me had indeed felt like taking a leap of faith into a dark unknown.
God assures us in Matthew 5:14-16 that we are a city on a hill. We are to let our light shine before others. He challenges us to wake up and live carefully, making the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:14-16).
In other words, he says let your little light shine every chance you can.
And be willing to go find the darkness.
He assures us that his perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) and "once fear no longer controls you, and Christ is walking by your side, you are undaunted -- and eager to go find some darkness" (from Undaunted).
There is extreme, pitch black frightening darkness all around the world. There's darkness in the jungles of Africa where the school girls remain captive and have not yet been brought back. There's terrifying darkness in the countries where the Ebola crisis is more than a threat but an actual epidemic. There's darkness on the border of Cambodia and Thailand where young girls are made into sex slaves.
But we don't have to even go around the world.
We barely have to leave our homes.
Because our kids are struggling with fears and pressure. Our husbands are fighting untold battles against the darkness of illicit websites so readily available. Our neighbors are fighting life threatening diseases. Our fellow church members are fighting addictions that hold not only them captive, but their entire family.
Sometimes it's not obvious. In the light of day, we may hardly notice it. Because people put on brave faces. Happy plastic smiles. Wearing masks to hide the darkness that plagues them.
But still, our call is to go find the darkness. Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the darkness that people are battling. To look for it and then summon the courage to be the light there. To not shy away from it. To not allow the darkness to snuff out our light, but rather to let Christ shine through us with a hope that dispels the darkness.
It's not hard or complicated. It's a smile and a kind word as you engage the exhausted cashier at the store. It's a choice to show grace when a customer service rep is rude and irritable. It's a persistence to reach into the lives of those you know are struggling. We are to bear each other's burdens. That doesn't mean we attempt to carry them all on our own. But we take them to the Father through prayer. Regularly. Consistently. Persistently. We share Scripture via texts or phone calls. We write notes. We let them know that we can't fix their pain but we will walk the road with them.
Darkness is all consuming. The dark days of life, whether it be grief or relationship pain or health crisis or financial issues, are suffocating. And the only thing worse than walking through dark days is doing so alone.
Because sometimes our light fades. Our hope diminishes. And the night feels endless.
We need others to enter our darkness and simply let their light shine by staying near.
And we need to daily and continually be looking for the darkness. Because within us is the light of Christ.
We are wise to use every opportunity to strive to light the way for others in our path.
This little light of mine. I'm gonna let it shine!