By Alli Bauck
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)
It was a normal evening in our household. The kids were down for the night, dinner was cleaned up/put away, and my husband and I retreated to our respective “wind-down” activities. By 10:30pm I had surrendered to sleep, only waking when I heard what my dream-disrupted conscience thought was my oldest son drumming on the washer and dryer. The muffled booms were actually celebratory fireworks being illegally launched around town. The blurry, black shape of my husband appeared at my bedside, gently kissed me on the cheek, and wished me a happy New Year.
And just like that, it was 2022. In a matter of seconds, all the things that were going to happen “next year” were suddenly happening “THIS year.”
When it comes to the first half of January, I’m with the people who do not look forward to the changing of the calendar with enthusiasm. There’s always the depressing experience of holiday hangover, when celebrations with friends and family have ended and life starts to return to normal. Then there’s the bombardment of resolutions and reminders of all the ways life is not meeting my expectations (and, quite honestly, neither am I).
I ended 2021 with this prayer on my lips: “Jesus, I’m tired.” That prayer wasn’t followed by a request for sovereign strength or rejuvenating rest; I just wanted to confess how I was feeling physically and mentally. My new year began with a similar, simple sentiment: “Jesus, I don’t know.”
I. Don’t. Know.
I don’t know where to begin or what to expect! If I’m honest, I don’t know if I’m ready…
Recently, I wrapped up the second year of journeying through the Light in the Darkness hymn journal from Next Step Press. The concluding song was the title track: “Light in the Darkness” by Brooke Orozco and Brendan Knorp. One of the verses from the song speaks to how I am feeling as I begin this 2022 trek:
Strength, strength for the weary, [Christ] comes to give us peace.
In Him we seek our refuge, apart from this world of grief.
The accompanying podcast shared a great visual. In biblical days, people used small, hand-held oil lamps to light their way in the darkness, even on treacherous paths. However, the minimal amount of illumination given off by the lamp was only enough to light one step ahead.
At first, my modern-day mentality viewed this reality as frustrating. Only being able to see one step at a time?! Really??
When I look at that situation through the eyes of faith, however, I see the blessing of focusing on what is directly in front of me, instead of being distracted by what is around me or far ahead of me. Only being able to see one step at a time becomes an exercise in trust. The Bible tells me that Jesus is the Light of the world. Jesus—the Word incarnate—is the Lamp to my feet and the Light to my path.
In this gloomy world of grief, I often struggle to navigate the unseen. My heart is anxious when I dwell on the darkness around me. But when I trust God’s Word to guide my footsteps and I cling to Christ as my Light, it doesn’t matter if I don’t know everything.
If I’m not ready for the days to come, Jesus understands. Jesus is there, holding back the blackness, so I can see just enough to take the next step.
Rejoice! Rejoice! For He who is God took human form
to be our light, light in the darkness.