Recently I received an e-mail reminding me of a summer I spent in Oregon half a century ago. Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1961, I served as a chaplain and cave guide at Oregon Cave National Park. Four or five times a day, seven days a week, during my three months there, I guided groups of tourists on an hour and a half tour of the cave. It was my job as cave guide to point out stalactite, stalagmite and flowstone formations, fungus and algae, bats and all the other material, plant and animal life in the cave.
Toward the end of the tour, we'd come to a large room -- about one-third the size of a football field. The room was 3,300 feet into the cave (more than a half mile) and 186 feet below the surface of the ground. When everyone was in position in the room, we would turn off the lights and show people what that portion of the cave was really like in its natural condition … in total darkness.
Above ground, a condition of total darkness rarely, if ever, exists. There is always the reflection of light from some near or distant city or factory or well-traveled highway. Even when our famous Blizzard of '78 stole our electricity, distant moon and stars kept us from experiencing total darkness when candles and lamps were blown out. I remember lying there in that blizzard darkness and seeing shadowy forms throughout the room. As a cave guide in Oregon Cave, I would invite the people to move their hands back and forth an inch in front of their eyes. It was as if they were blind.
Sadly, many people are in total darkness or near total darkness where God is concerned. They have never allowed themselves to experience God's Love or to really listen to His Word. They have never been sensitive to or realized the value of the life, the eternal life and the eternal relationship God offers to us.
In the total darkness of that cave room, we would wait a moment to allow the people to get accustomed to the total darkness. Then a guide would light one small match. Human eyes searching for even the faintest glimmer of light would make full use of the light cast by that one little match. The entire room could now be seen by its light.
This month, as Lent begins and we move ever closer to Easter, the Christian world focuses on the full meaning of God’s entrance into the world in human flesh and vulnerability. Jesus identified Himself as "The Light of the world."
Now that Light reflects through God's people. By the Grace of God, the love of and faith in God shown through one person's life can play a large part in taking spiritual darkness from a neighbor.