The Mysterious Light

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Photo by Pat

In Him (Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men…the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  [He] was the true Li ght which gives light to every man coming into the world.  John 1:4,5,9

Suppose that the “Wise Men” of old had been scientists of our day and time.  How might their visit to the Lord Jesus Christ have played out?  Here is my “take” on an updated version of those famous seekers of truth.

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As they approached the simple house, the current dwelling of the reported divine child-king, “The Light” appeared again.  It had first appeared more than a year earlier when Jack, one of the four astronomers and astrophysicists, had observed it in the eastern sky.  Within a couple of weeks, the media had gotten hold of the story.  When it had become clear that the light was pure energy; that there was no matter associated with it, speculation had run wild.  “The Light,” as it had been named, was not produced by nuclear fusion as is the light from our sun and other stars.  It was not an object falling through our atmosphere causing it to glow as it disintigrated.  Nor was it reflected light as in the case of our moon.  What was it?

The internet was full of speculation about its cause and possible significance.  Some thought it was an apocalyptic sign.  Others thought it was a harbinger of doom.  Joe and Frank had done some research suggesting that such a phenomena could be a precursor to the birth of a highly significant person:  royalty or even deity.  (Numbers 24:17)

Other researchers in their tightly-knit group hoped for a more scientific explanation.  However, they had not come up with one.  The media and public opinion were demanding answers, so to placate public fears, the group had decided to send a delegation to the Holy Land to investigate.

The rationale for their visit would be to honor the “king” should they find him.  Jack was especially skeptical, but since no one had a better suggestiion, he had gone along with the idea.

Once they had arrived in the Holy Land, they had questioned many  locals in the hope of locating this “king”.  They were able to learn that a Child had indeed been born, that Angels had heralded His birth, and that these Angels had called him a “Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Media reports indicated that His dedication at the temple had revealed additional information about this mysterious Child.  A respected priest and prophet, Simeon, had called Him a “Light” to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of God’s People, Israel” and a devote intercessor named Anna had recognized the Child as the One who would bring redemption to Jerusalem.

Now, as they approached His dwelling, and again saw “The Light,” each man felt a quickening of his own spirit–a sense of awe, of wonder, of amazement, but also of peace and joy.  Even Jack removed his beanie in reverence for the Babe who would one day be King.

Truly this was a different type of ruler than any they had ever known.  Presidents, kings, queens, prime ministers, dictators:  they were familiar with them all.  Without exception they were surrounded with finery, elegance, and wealth.  They found this Child in the simplest of living conditions.  Were it not for the dazzling light that seemed to emerge from the Child Himself, this little family looked like millions of others living on the planet.  Yet their spirits knew that this Child was not just “a king” but “The King,” the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.  God had given up His Glory in the Heavens to make his Abode among men.

They had found the source of The Light:  God Himself–“The shekhinah glory.*”  And they had found much more:  They had found The Savior.

And so the four seekers knelt before the God-Child, and there  they gave their lives, their very beings out of love and gratitude for what He had given for them.

*visible manifestation of God’s presence

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“You Will Find Him!”*

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Photo by Pat

Our harrowing drive through a snow storm on Wolf Creek Pass** was suddenly interrupted by a blinding light in the sky.  At the same moment, the snow and the wind stopped.  A hush seemed to envelop the night.  Everything seemed to focus on the light.  The glare was so intense, that I pulled the car off the road at a turnout.  Several other cars had already pulled out there.  My wife awoke, and together we stared at the light.  Some of the folks up ahead had gotten out of their cars. One woman knelt reverently on the wet pavement.

A word escaped my lips, “What…?”  Suddenly my ears were filled with the sweetest sound I had ever heard.  Singing?  Was it singing?  I had sung in the university choir in college, but never had I heard such harmony, such range, and such depth of sound.  As my eyes adjusted to the light, I began to make out beings.  They were certainly not human with their powerful wings now fully extended, but they had heads and faces, and I could even began to make out the expressions of joy and peace

Many of the folks who had left their cars now knelt on the pavement.  My wife joined them with a rapt expression on her face.  Thinking of my recent escape from almost certain death on the icy road and my past life of ignoring the purposes of God, I knelt beside her and placed a hand on her shoulder.  Again I uttered the one word, “God”.  But this time it was in repentance, reverence and faith.  In a moment of time I had changed camps.  I had become a believer!

It was with consternation then, that I watched several cars zoom past on the highway, too engrossed in their own lives and problems to notice this sight of heavenly grandeur.  How long we stayed there I do not know, a few minutes, a half an hour?  Finally, as the light began to fade.  I heard the words, “You will find Him, the Savior…”

When the mysterious light had vanished, we returned to the car.  “The storm is over,” I remarked.  “What storm?” she responded. There was no snow accumulation anywhere.  There was no ice on the highway.  The water that was left there was quickly evaporating.

“You will find Him,” kept playing in my mind.  “Yes, I must find Him.”  There was in me an intense desire, an insatiable hunger.  “I must find Him.  I must find Him.”

We drove on through the night.  The sky was bright with stars.  One star in the western sky seemed especially bright.  As I watched, its brilliance increased.

The highway had descended from the pass to a mountain valley.  Large rolls of hay could be seen marking this area as pasture land.  I could make out the white, irregular shapes of sheep, huddled together against the night air.  A dirt road led off to what I supposed was a ranch.  Several cars ahead of us were turning there. “Take it,” came the inner prompting.

As I turned off the highway, I saw the light again.  A glow seemed to be coming from a ranch out-bulilding.  As we pulled up, other cars also parked.  People were jumping out, and rushing toward the low shed.

Inside a man and a young woman stood huddled together.  He had his coat wrapped around her shoulders.  Two cows, and a few sheep were in nearby pens, too weak to be out in the fields. There on a clean bed sheet that covered the straw was a little bundle of life–a Baby!  “The baby came too fast.  With the treacherous road conditions, we would never have made it to the medical center in Pagosa Springs.  The rancher loaned us this heated shed for privacy.”

Like the others who had entered the shed, we knelt before the Baby–the promised Savior.  Never had I felt such life, joy, love and peace.  On this dark night of fear, we had found Him, the Savior, the Light of the World.

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*This is a story based on the account of the shepherds near Bethlehem.  I have tried to examine the effect of the visitation of the angels on a modern-day unbeliever.  My goal is to make the shepherds’ story current in a modern setting.

**See previous post. Continue reading ““You Will Find Him!”*”

A Treacherous Winter Drive

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I looked at my wife dozing in the seat next to me as we started up Wolf Creek Pass.  We were traveling to our home in Durango and hoped to arrive by morning.   That meant that I would need to drive through the night over the mountain passes.  We were just thirty minutes west of the village of South Fork when the snow began.  First, there were large, feather-like flakes floating gently to the pavement before me.  They melted on impact.  As our car continued on up the pass, the storm intensified.  Snow, blown by the wind, whirled around our car engulfing us in white.  The headlights of oncoming cars were dispersed by the snow making it even more difficult to see the highway.  The car ahead of me swerved and slid to a stop blocking my lane.  The pavement was becoming slick!  I slowed down and put on my emergency flashers to warn cars approaching from the rear of my presence on the road.

The car ahead of me corrected its position on the road and continued on its way.  As our car caught up with it we, too, spun out.   We were approaching the top of the pass.  The drop-off beyond the guard rail was at least 200 feet.  Even as I contemplated that, I noticed that car tracks crossed both lanes of the highway and led to a break in the guard rail.  Someone had slid out of control and had gone over!   I gripped the steering wheel with “white-knuckles.”  How could my wife continue to sleep under such conditions?  My car snaked around a couple of turns, then suddenly, inexplicably, our car began to slide toward the rail.  I was not a man of faith–far from it–I ridiculed the idea of a Supreme Being as the invention of fearful and weak minds.  However, in this moment of almost certain catastrophe, I called out, “God!”

My car slowed in its progress toward the guard rail, and the death that waited beyond it.  It came to a stop crosswise of the road, but safe.  I was able to pull out of the slide and continue on our way.  We reached the summit of the pass and began the switchbacks of our slow, treacherous descent.

Suddenly…

(To be concluded.)

Mary’s Miracle*

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Photo by Shawn Lockridge

Mary sat in silence in her parents’ dinning room.  The day had been an eventful one.

It had all begun when she had entered the lunchroom at school.  As she had glanced at her friends, they had averted their eyes or whispered to those seated next to them.  When she got up to leave, embarrassed whispers changed to giggles, and then to outright laughter.

Mary was a senior at Mountain High School.  She had grown up with these kids and knew them all well.  At one time she had considered all of them her friends.  Now all that had changed.

As she was about to leave the school for the day, Sharon had run up to  her with her phone in hand. “Look, Mary! You are famous!  Almost five hundred hits already!”

Mary had looked at the photograph on the phone–a photograph of her in her much-too-tight gym shorts and tee-shirt.  She had been trying to make a basket in PE.  There was an awkward bump on her front, and someone had added an arrow pointing to the bulge and the word “Joseph’s?” to the photo.  Everyone in her school must be laughing at her.  Mary’s face turned beet red as she ran home.

Mary thought back to the evening about six months ago.  She had been preparing for bed when suddenly a brilliant light had flooded her small bedroom.  Frightened, she had pulled her sheet around her.  As her eyes adjusted to the light, she had been able to make out a form within the light– the form of a huge man with folded wings!  Even more astonishing, he had begun to talk to her. “Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you!”

Mary had become even more frightened, and she had tried to hide behind her bed.  Then the angel had said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you are to call him Jesus. ”

It had all been so thrilling and unexpected.  She had agreed saying, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled.”

The angel had told her that her cousin, Elizabeth, was also about to have a miraculous child.  Since it was summer break, she had gone to visit Elizabeth.  The two had encouraged each other and had rejoiced in the Lord’s plan for each of them.  Eventually Elizabeth’s child, John, had been born and Mary had to return home to start her senior year.

The trouble had started in October.  First, someone had noticed that she was getting heavy.  She passed it off, “My Cousin, Elizabeth, is a wonderful cook.”

Then someone had noticed that she had pickles and ice cream every day for lunch in the cafeteria.  She had noticed several of her friends in a huddle one day looking at her.  “Not Mary!” one of them had said.  “She has always seemed so pure.”

The next evening, her finance, Joseph had called her.  “Did you see the post?  Do you know what they are saying, Mary?  Is it true?”

She had laughed, a little nervous laugh.  She had been waiting to tell Joseph until she was certain that this miraculous thing was really happening in her life.  She was certain now.

“Yes, I know!  I have been wanting to tell you.  God has chosen me for a great honor, the honor of carrying His Son!  We are going to be the parents of the promised Son of God!  Isn’t it wonderful, Joseph?  Aren’t you thrilled?  Think of it!  Chosen by God!  An angel told me months ago.  God told my cousin Elizabeth too!  Joseph…Joseph?”  There was no answer.

Mary had heard nothing from Joseph for several days.  Then one day he caught up with her on the way home from school.  Some of her friends were watching.  She heard an embarrassed giggle come from them.

Joseph had pulled her aside.  “I want no part of this deception, Mary.  How could you have done this?  We were to be married in June when you graduated.  I trusted you!”

Mary had thrown her arms around him.  “Listen to your heart, Joseph.  You will know the truth.”

Joseph had pulled away.  “To have done this deed– that is bad enough, but then to have lied about it and to have tried to cover it up by blaming God!  I am so disappointed in you, Mary.   Our engagement is over, done!  I never want to see you again.  I suggest that you move in with your cousin.  She seems to approve of this mess!”

Mary had been stunned!  All these months she had basked in the glow of the visit of the angel.  Now, suddenly, she was faced with a harsh reality.  Her friends were laughing at her, and Joseph had rejected her.  No doubt her parents would not believe her either.

She returned to her room, that same room where the angel had met her many months before.  As she sat there, tears streaming down her checks, she began to pray.  A new resolve came on her.  She was going to believe God no matter what happened.  A feeling of peace came over her, and soon she was sleep.

That night Joseph had fallen into a troubled sleep.  The girl he loved had deceived him, and now she was lying about the whole thing making up a story about an angel and saying that her baby was the Son of God.   Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary home as  your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

The next morning as she walked to school, the first person Mary saw was Joseph.  He was running toward her, and he was smiling!

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*This is a story from the scriptures that I have tried to recast in a modern setting.  I have tried to examine the challenges that the Bible characters faced as I make them people of our day and time.  My goal is that we would see them as victorious in some of the challenges that we face today.