A child develops in darkness. Entombed in the womb.
Cushioned and cradled within its comfortable confines.
They grow toward the day when they will emerge, blinking, into the light.
Stretch tenuous fingers toward all that awaits to embrace them.
At a point in time they will draw in air, breathe independently and become a living, wriggling, blood-stained crying reality to those who have anticipated their arrival.
Each new birth holds a degree of mystery and wonder, unfolding of a life that is as yet unknown, unfamiliar, no matter how well prepared the parents may feel beforehand.
Scripture speaks of the anticipated arrival of Messiah, Servant-King, God Incarnate.
Years of waiting culminating in “to us a child is born, to us a son is given”, a child like any other in appearance yet with a huge weight on his tiny shoulders.
This Christ-child is to be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 42:6) and One who will “reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever” (Isaiah 42:7).
He developed and grew in the secret place, in the deep dark space, in the area where only God sees and meets with us.
He came to be the Light-bringer, Light-bearer and Light-giver to all who walk in darkness.
His time encapsulated in the womb echoed His desire to fully enter into all our frail humanity, to lay aside His majesty, come into our darkness.
It is said of Jesus’ coming, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
I wrote this little poem recently about being in a time of darkness:
In coming to earth as a tiny, defenceless, dependent baby, Jesus identifies with our weakness and fragility.
In coming to earth as a bringer of holy Light, He reveals God’s desire to overcome the darkness that exists both within and without us.
In coming as a child, developing in the depth of a warm, watery womb, He experienced a taste of being without visible light yet still intimately and vitally connected to God the Father.
He had the light of life within Him continually, just as we can experience when we come to faith in Him and His Spirit comes to live within.
Here’s the thing:Don’t we get to know and experience God most in the dark side of life, in the painful circumstances, the challenges and hardships we face?
Aren’t we more aware of Him when we need help rather than when we feel confident and capable?
Our heaviness of spirit tips hopeful toward the light of His presence, wanting to feel lighter, to loose the load we bear and hand it over to God, our Burden-Bearer.
“Anyone who has ever known him has known him perhaps better in the dark than anywhere else because it is in the dark where he seems to visit us most often” ~ Frederick Buechner in ‘Listening to Your Life’
And just as we long to gather our own children to safety and shelter, to comfort, reassure and give them support, so God calls us out of the dark ways that threaten to kill and destroy our very souls.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth” ~ Isaiah 42:16
As we await the celebrations of Christmas there is much to ponder in the interval.
Advent speaks of a coming, a watching and a waiting. It also speaks of an arrival.
The curtain is lifting. The stage is set. God enters human history as one of us.
We live the other side of the blind darkness, of the deep distress, of the lost hopes and dreams.
We are chosen, redeemed, beloved and precious to God.
We are a people called out of darkness into His glorious light.
We are destined to be light-bearers and light-bringers for those still in darkness.
Once we see the great hope we have from being in Christ, there is every reason to have joy in this season and beyond.
Let us look beyond the confines of our circumstances, breathe deep of Holy Spirit power, stretch wings of faith and hands of praise toward the One who brings light, love, hope and joy into each and every day ~ if we allow Him to.
Jesus sees and knows our every weakness. He came to save, to suffer, to die for you and me. We have the challenge of letting Him live in and through us.
You and I can be born again, brought into the light, freed from the grip of death and darkness, given a fresh start.