I’m reading a book about mountaineering at the moment. I’m not much of a climber myself, but I find accounts of heroic feats on mountains fascinating. In the particular chapter I’ve just finished, a pair of climbers run out of daylight on a descent. With a sheer drop just five metres to their left, they find themselves stuck on a ledge for several hours through the night, unable to move. At one point, one of them accidentally knocks his helmet off the ledge and hears it clattering on the slopes below. Only when dawn broke were they able – shivering and stiff – to start descending again.
The author notes how the descent was relatively simple in the daylight – they even came across the helmet on the way down! – but the darkness had rendered it utterly impossible. They could only walk while they had the light.
Jesus climbed a fair few mountains in his time, though I doubt this was in his mind when he shared the wisdom of today’s passage. The basic is the principle is the same, though – ‘walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.’ (v35)
In this case, the light is not that of the sun, but of the Son – Jesus has already referred to himself as the light of this world, and it is his light we are to walk in. This light is what illuminates both the depths of our heart, the eyes of our mind, and the paths of our life. Jesus’ light enables us to be ‘children of light’ (v36). What a beautiful phrase that is!
Light feels in short supply at present. Literally, we are in the darkest two months of the year. But we also carry the challenges of this season – challenges which may make us feel ‘dark’. Today’s encouragement from Jesus is very simple, but very powerful: walk in his light. And if we have the light of Jesus – which we do – we might re-phrase that as: keep walking. Outwalk the darkness – stay ahead of it. Let Jesus’ light lead you: let it fill your heart, inspire your mind and guide your way.
Unlike Jesus’ listeners, we are the other side of Calvary. Jesus is not going away anytime soon. The darkness need not overtake us. His light shines on – permanently, powerfully, eternally. Let’s walk in the light today, and so live as the Father’s precious children of light.