COMMENTARY: From darkness to light — thoughts about Easter

Visitors can walk and crawl through the Phoenix Gold mine to explore dark shafts 500 feet underground. (Submitted photo/The  Rev. Timothy Evans)

Visitors can walk and crawl through the Phoenix Gold mine to explore dark shafts 500 feet underground. (Submitted photo/The Rev. Timothy Evans)

Have you ever been in the dark?

Sure, we all have, but I’m not talking about the kind of darkness where you get up in the middle of the night and trip over the cord that’s charging your cellphone or your shoes that your spouse or mother told you to put away. I’m not talking about my experiences walking home from my office on a moonless night so I can discover where the mud puddles are.

We’ve all experienced those kinds of darkness; I’m talking about a different kind.

The Rev. Timothy Evans

The Rev. Timothy Evans

I’m speaking about darkness so dark there is no light of any kind, period.

I’ve only truly experienced that a few times in my life. When I was just a boy my parents took me to Skyline Caverns in Virginia. I only remember a few things from the tour. I do remember a bottomless pit and I remember they turned out the lights when we were 250 feet below the ground.

It was then that I thought about that bottomless pit, and I was frozen still where I stood. A few seconds seemed like forever. I strained to see anything but there was no way to see no matter how hard I tried.

Suddenly I felt the reassuring hand of my father come to rest on my shoulder. He had been there all along, just a foot or so from me, but I could not sense his presence until I felt his hand on my shoulder.

Many years later my wife and I were in Idaho Springs, Colorado, where we decided to tour the Phoenix Gold Mine. It’s off the beaten path and a bunch of miles up a dirt road. I wasn’t disappointed by its quaintness nor the stories the local miner/tour guide shared with us on the tour. I especially enjoyed his sense of humor regarding a certain friend’s car and a stick of dynamite, even though it had nothing to do with mining.

He did tell us some interesting mining stories and I could see that the more interest I showed, the more stories we would get and the longer the tour would be. I like to get my money’s worth.

I learned about mining as we walked and crawled through the narrow passages to see various mine shafts approximately 500 feet below the surface. There were artifacts from days gone by, dating back to 1871 when the mine was open and from more modern times.

At one point our guide told us to get ready to experience what it is like with no light. With that, he turned out the lights. Again I was in total darkness. My mind flashed back to my childhood experience.

I was not gripped by fear this time but even so it was disconcerting. I reached my hand out and touched my wife who quickly latched onto my hand and I gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. Later she told me how much she needed that.

After our eyes acclimated to the total darkness, we were still unable to see our hands right in front of our faces. It was then that our guide gave us a lesson about the power of light.

He lit a single match.

Suddenly the room was filled with light. It was unbelievable how much light seemed to come from that one match, but such is the power of light over even the blackest darkness.

The disciples of Jesus Christ were coming through the blackest of times. The darkness of Good Friday, with the crucifixion of Jesus, led to the feeling of total aloneness on Saturday. They were frightened and felt abandoned. Hopelessness had been trying to creep into their hearts and minds.

They had heard the teaching of Jesus, and had been front and center for the miracles, but how do you hold on in the face of overwhelming odds?

Easter morning dawned and, with the light of the sun just coming up, there was the first encounter with the Risen Savior.

Doubt began to evaporate with the appearance of Jesus to more and more of the disciples, just like fog disappears under the blaze of the morning sun. What a blessed feeling of elation to know the promise of Jesus was true, the grave could not hold him.

On Easter evening Jesus came into the locked room where the disciples had gathered and said these words: “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19) What wonderful words of comfort. Like a strong and trusted hand on a shoulder dispels the fear of darkness, so did Jesus’ words cut through all the feelings of sorrow, danger and abandonment.

Listen to these next words of Jesus: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20: 21) He commissions them, in that moment, to use what they have received and to become givers. They were to be the hand that reaches out in the darkness and clasps the hand of one who needs a friend, a guide or a positive influence in their lives.

For Christians, Easter is the celebration of our belief in the Son of God who left the throne of Heaven to save us from the darkness of a world through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) He is that true light and the one we look to, to show us the way to the Heavenly Father. He is the Giver of Life.

For those who are followers of Christ today, we believe Jesus is the Light of the World, and we are the matches lighting the way to him.

The Rev. Timothy Evans is pastor at The Cross Church of the Nazarene, 1818 N. Little Creek Road, Dover. For more information, visit www.thecrossofdover.org, Facebook (The Cross church of the Nazarene) or email thecrossofdover@aol.com.

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