And here it is: November! Faster and faster, the days go by —do you ever wonder how you’ll get it all done in time? I know I do!
As I’m writing this, the General and I have just returned from Sri Lanka. I had the privilege of spending 7 days at the South Asia Zonal Conference, followed by 3 additional days at their Women’s Conference. I was honoured to be speaking, teaching and sharing with our leaders —and hearing their stories too. But after spending 10 days in sunshine and 30 degree heat, and then flying back home to London, I woke up the next morning and thought...
WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS?!?
Seriously, who turned out the lights?!? It’s that time of year here! November in the UK can be awfully dark and dreary. Autumn has turned to a wet and cold winter —and that 30 degree heat I’d been basking in just hours before? Suddenly, I was standing in a dark and cold three degrees. And as I shivered down into my scarf, and shuffled my way into the office the next dark morning, it reminded me that yes —there is this blanket of darkness that covers the earth. Even in hot and sunny Sri Lanka, even further south of the equator, there is still this ever-present darkness.
It’s sometimes oppressive and we wonder how we’ll ever get away from it. The darkness can overwhelm us —especially when I sit here, knowing that the evenings are only going to get darker and the days will continue to get shorter…
‘Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit? Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence? If I go up into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there. If I ride on the wings of morning, if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean, Even then You will be there to guide me; Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there. Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me, the light around me will soon be turned to night,” You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes. For You the night is just as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes,’ (Psalm 139: 7-12 VOICE).
...yet, I take comfort in these words from Psalm 139. It doesn’t matter how dark it seems to us —God sees right through it. He already knows the beginning and end. He knows the victory —and it comes from the gift of his Son!
Take THAT, Darkness!
‘A light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. It cannot and will not be quenched,’ (John 1:5 VOICE).
Jesus IS the light. And darkness can’t stop him! Isn’t it great and isn’t it amazing that it doesn’t take a whole lot of Jesus to conquer that darkness? Anyone who’s lost electricity in the middle of a dark storm knows that the smallest flicker of a candle can light up a room.
But sometimes we do forget. We get caught up in the storm and we can’t see. A popular children’s television personality in Canada and the US from the 1960s once said ‘When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realising that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world.’ Mister Rogers
This is so true. I look for the helpers, and there I find the light. We each need to remember this and be looking. There is always light to be found, somewhere! And it’s ok that when we’re in the midst of the dark storms, it’s sometimes hard to remember —because it really can be hard to see! But that’s why we have each other: to remind one another!! So, hang in there!
Hang in there — it’s coming!
‘Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in”’ (John 8:12 MSG).
The thing about physical darkness in the world is —it doesn’t last forever! And right now in London, the shop windows and Starbucks Christmas coffee remind me: Christmas is indeed coming! Our time to celebrate the birth of the King is coming! —THE LIGHT IS COMING!
Our hope is our Light
Jesus is our hope. He is our light. He died so that not one of us needs to be devastated by darkness. —but wait! Even more than that? He empowers each of us to be light!
‘You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,’ (Matt 5:14-16).
Jesus is light, and he’s charged us with being the same. So how do we ‘be light’? In a world full of darkness, hate, lies and confusion —we shine by being true. Be true to your word, whatever you are doing. Be honest and sincere with the people in your path. And be true to God’s Word, studying regularly and knowing it. And stay close to Jesus in prayer. You need that relationship. And look for ways that you can help with the physical needs of your communities. Our Whole World Mobilising team talked about this in a blog post recently, highlighting the plight of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh — and how The Salvation Army is literally bringing them light. Read more about it there.
I’m so honoured to be a part of this Army, and to be a part of your lives. It brings me a peace, and brings a smile to my soul. Even in the dark moments, we know we’ve nothing to fear! God’s got this! So, I’m going to keep on shining and I challenge you to keep shining too —all for his Glory!
My prayers this month find focus in the light of God. So much oppression and sickness caused by that darkness —I pray that we each learn of and come to know the authority given to us by Jesus Christ as we ‘be the light’ and live as overcomers. I ask you to continue in prayer with me over this and the issues especially on my heart today:
- Our youth. Gang culture is a darkness I see up close and personally here in London with recent stabbings and shootings —but it’s lived out in so many places around the globe, where our young people don’t know of Jesus and don’t see any hope for a future.
- Election strife around the world: US midterm elections in a country divided. Afghanistan and the terrorist attacks killing so many voters at their registration centres. Madagascar elections and the issues of extreme poverty.
- Recent terror attacks in Melbourne, Thousand Oaks, Somalia, etc.
- Catastrophic fires in California.
- Keep praying for refugees and displaced people around the world.
- The famine in Yemen.
- Cameroon and the kidnapping of nearly 80 students and teachers from their school, I’m praying right now for their safe return.
- Celebrations around the world: Salvation Army work, 25 years in The Republic of Georgia, 125 years in West Norwood, UK to name just a few!
God bless you and keep you light!