I don’t know how many of you have experienced the classic road trip with your family, but most of you are probably familiar with the idea!
Whether you were the adults driving or the kids along for the ride, you probably had some experience in this arena.
You had long nights of driving trying to get to where you wanted to be while the kids slept in the back.
After persevering through the night and ready to crash wherever your destination was; the kids woke up and enjoyed seeing the sky line of New York City, or the St. Louis Arch, or the Sears Tower, or the Golden Gate Bridge.
You promised them a sight to see and delivered upon the arrival to destinations of your choosing.
I remember a trip in particular when I was a little boy in the back of what can only be described as a Griswold Family Vacation Super Stretch Station Wagon.
As mom and dad told the tale, the plan was to put a mattress in the back that my brother and I could sleep on, and we would arrive at the motel in the morning where mom and dad would get some shut eye, and my brother and I would watch cartoons until they woke up!
That was the plan, but as we all know, the best laid plans are frequently thwarted by circumstances beyond our control.
And the circumstances beyond my mother and father’s control was their little boys utter excitement at the destination we were so excited to see, Mt. Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
We just could not wait to see the Giant Presidents carved into stone and stayed up all night in the back asking questions about what we would see.
And my parents made a valiant attempt to describe it in all its’, glory, but it was too beyond our comprehension, and the darkness all around gave us nothing to imagine instead of asking question after question throughout the night trying to just comprehend the glory of the place.
As you can well imagine, the questions went like this, “What does it look like? What will it be like? How did they carve it up there? Why did they carve it up there? Who carved it up there?
There in the darkness of the drive we droned on with our endless questions, simply unsatisfied with anything our father and our mother said to alleviate our curiosity.
The prophecy of Isaiah comes to the people of God likewise in the dark! And this prophecy today was undoubtedly nearly impossible to understand.
Here they were in captivity in Babylon or left behind in Jerusalem in the ruins of a decimated wall that left them defenseless against their enemies.
Lighting the lamps would be ill advised only drawing unwanted attention from those desiring to pillage and harm them.
The darkness likely felt like the very end of the world as they knew it, not unlike the very first days of creation when, “darkness was over the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2b).
The darkness would penetrate even further into the very nature of God’s people when Yahweh’s Revelation would cease for 400 years.
It would even spread to the very crucifixion of Christ himself when “there was darkness over the whole land until about the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed.”(Luke 23:44)
Sitting in the darkness is not uncommon for God’s people.
Some sit in the darkness of depression and anxiety never able to comprehend why God would let such a disease ravage the hearts of those who believe in Jesus’ Redemption.
Some suffer in the darkness of uncertainty for the future, for family, and for friends they love.
Some suffer in the darkness of death at the loss of ones they loved so much just wanting a glimpse of how they will live on without them.
The darkness challenges us, causes us to doubt, and makes us afraid.
If the devil is in the details, He is most certainly in the darkness.
These days I am less and less inclined to be out in the dark.
In my younger days I was more a creature of the night. Long walks, and long talks; out with friends long after we should have been in at a reasonable hour.
I loved the night life, streetlight people, and big city lights! Whether it was in Omaha, Denver, or St. Louis, I just could not get enough of the night!
Until I realized, I shouldn’t be out that late, because little good can be accomplished in the dark.
It’s getting harder for me to drive, because it’s harder for me to see, and harder for me to justify any reasonable motivation to be out so late.
So I’d rather get to bed and dream of the light!
God wants us to dream about that light, but it’s not just any light, it’s a very special Epiphany light that shines through any darkness we might encounter.
If it is the chaos of a world lost in darkness without form and void, God gives us the light of His Word to stand firmly on when all else is confusion and hypocrisy.
If it is those quiet times when God does not seem to be revealing Himself in ways that seem obvious, the beacon of the sacraments beckons us with the concrete presence of God forgiving us and strengthening our feeble faith.
If it feels like the whole world is crucifying our Christ all over again, and it seems like another period of darkness when the Son no longer seems to be there; Isaiah shows us once again, the brightness of Christ is in His Resurrection, which is always without end.
Then Isaiah reminds us of the Magi who came bearing gifts of Gold and Frankincense to the King of the Universe who would be the light of the world!
And Isaiah prophesies an eternal city with “…its temple…the Lord God almighty and the lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day-and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21:23-25)
For there is no such thing as darkness only the absence of light and the light is Jesus!
Well my mother and father’s night came to a close that faithful night on the drive from Minneapolis to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
And driving up to that majestic monument was so much more than my parents could possibly describe for us, with the light of day shining, on the face of those magnificent men!
So will that final day be for us. For even though we live in, through, and sometimes even oppressed by these dark days; the light of Christ’s eternal living will shine in a way that we could never comprehend now, but can have absolute hope for; that through the darkness there will be light.