Day 16

The True Light

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan

Isaiah 9:2-7, Isaiah 60:1-5, John 1:9-13, John 8:12, Revelation 22:1-5

It was a ten-hour flight from Rome to Atlanta, and every mile was painful. I’m not sure what triggered it—whether it was the atmospheric pressure, some unknown stress in my life, or something I ate—but I sat as still as I could, trying to shut out every sight, sound, and smell. I had a migraine, and a really awful one to boot. To make matters worse, my assigned seat on this fully booked flight, was bathroom-adjacent, and came with all the special sensory blessings one might expect.

I made futile attempts at sleep, but all were quashed by the ding of call buttons and overhead announcements from our dutiful pilot, who seemed to be narrating every aspect of his job for us, his captive audience. I tried drinking plenty of water, and when I’d drunk enough to fill a kiddie pool, I tried to up my intake of caffeine. I alternated between ibuprofen and acetaminophen, hoping one or the other would numb the pain, but neither did. And of course, I prayed, but no miracle was released from heaven, at least not on my timetable. I was miserable, and completely pathetic to observe.

But then we landed. I shuffled down the aisle as quickly as I could with my carry-on in tow, not sure what I was speeding toward, just some setting other than the one I’d known for what seemed like the longest flight in human history. And then it happened. As my lungs filled with new air and natural light surrounded me on all sides, I felt relief. The weight in my forehead lifted, and I began to be renewed, little by little. By the time my airport pickup arrived, I was my old self again. Light—pure, good, and unspoiled light—brought restoration.

The Bible tells us that when Christ came, it was as if a light “dawned on those living in the land of darkness” (Isaiah 9:2). Here’s the thing about living in darkness: you forget there was ever anything else. You grow accustomed to fumbling around in the shadows, making do with what you have. It’s only when light arrives, when relief comes unexpectedly, that you realize just how painful and harsh things had been.

There was never supposed to be a land of darkness. No sin. No death. No pain. No curse. From the beginning, God had been the world’s light. But our first parents chose the darkness, and we’ve been stumbling around ever since, wholeheartedly choosing the darkness for ourselves and mostly unaware things were ever different. Sure, there have been sparks of light down through the centuries—every time God pushed forward His redemptive plan, revealing Himself and His ways. But then there was Christmas, the day that Light stepped into the darkness, put on flesh, and changed everything.

Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), and all those who come to Him in faith are “rescued from the domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). That is why we celebrate every December. Light has come, and “the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). But because this is Advent, a season in which we look back on Christ’s first coming as we eagerly await His second, we should also celebrate the day yet to come when the darkness will be vanquished entirely. “Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light” (Revelation 22:5). Come, Lord Jesus!

Written by John Greco

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