For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)
There really is no competition between the light Jesus brings to your life and the darkness that is trying to negatively impact it. This means you can accept the fact that as you walk by faith, everything doesn’t have to be perfectly in alignment. Everything doesn’t have to be structurally ordered. Everything doesn’t have to be totally peaceful.
You can be juggling stress on one side and managing the beauty of God’s presence on the other. You can be coping with feelings of uncertainty. You can be trying to fight back embedded fears. You can be trying to run from negative emotions, but still get up in the morning and say, “This joy I have… the world did not give it, and the world cannot take it away!”
You don’t have to let darkness dominate your time, your attention, your devotion, because the light of Jesus is there. His light is there to brighten your perspective that things not being perfectly fit together doesn’t mean your life has to be disjointed. His light reminds you that pressures and struggles don’t have to take you down dark paths.
Not having clear answers doesn’t mean that youare hopelessly lost. Being tired and fatigued doesn’t mean you’re living faithless. Asking tough questions theologicallydoesn’t mean you don’t love Jesus.Struggling to give up contradictions doesn’t mean you’re not trying to develop your intimate relationship with Him. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust Him. You may have dark passions, but Jesus is a light shining on them.
You’re human. And your faith gives you the option to not let those dark passions and emotions dominateyour life. So when they try to lead the conversation, choose to listen to the report of the Lord over the report of your dark passions. Accept grace where you don’t have strength. Tell yourself the spiritual truth when you want to keep believing the lie. Step out in faith when you are vulnerable and prone to rely on yourown understanding.
Instead of walking by sight, make the choice to walk by faith.
I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:26–27 (NIV)
When the apostle Paul talks about running the race of life in order to win the prize, he is saying to us, first and foremost, that there’s really only one competitor in the race. That competitor in your life is not another person. If you are comparing yourself to and competing with the runners around you, your pace will become erratic and your run will become difficult. No, in order to win the race of life, you must beat the only true competition you have. That competition is the other runner inside of you, and it is what we refer to as “the flesh.”
Your spirit needs to outrun your flesh. Your transformed mind needs to outrun your old mind.God’s will in you needs to run faster than your will in you.
You aren’t running a race against your friends, your family, the person in the pew next to you on Sundays, or even against your enemies. You are running against you. We all have our fastest time to chase and it’s different for every one of us.
You’re not in this race to run at the pace of your doubts, uncertainties, fears, and hesitations. You’re trying to run at the pace of your faith,your hope,and your confidence in God.You’re not in this race to run at the speed of your impulses and inclinations and emotionality. You’re in this race to run at the pace of your belief in Jesus and your partnership with the Holy Spirit as
the Spirit prompts you to live in obedience to God’s will.
You can’t let the you that doesn’t want what God thinks is best for you, to outpace theyou that wants to live in obedience to God’s will.
We’re not in the race of life to beat those who are running in the next lane, because they’re not our competition. Our competition is the foolish part of who we are. So stop looking around to size up the other runners on the track.Instead, look within and focus your efforts on beating your true competition.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
In 1812, a devastating fire destroyed twelve years’ worth of Bible translation work for William Carey. Bibles, manuscripts, dictionaries, grammars, and printing presses—all gone. Legend has it that upon learning of the news, instead of despairing, he knelt and thanked God that he still had the strength to do the work over again. Before his death, he had duplicated and even improved on his earlier achievements.
Poet Annie Johnson Flint captures the spirit that infuses the soul of people like William Carey. She reminds us:
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun with out rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way;
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
Is there something you are facing today that is tempting you to despair? Something overwhelming and staggering? Focus not on the immense problems before you, but on the Lord’s presence in your life. His grace is sufficient. He will give you strength for the day, and that is enough.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he 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 (NIV)
A pilot spent his entire military life flying combat choppers in Vietnam. He was assigned to a secret mission one night, which required him to fly in complete darkness, totally by instrumentation, hovering above the jungles of Southeast Asia.
Try to imagine flying a chopper in utter and total darkness. When it came to landing, he had to be so meticulous and precise, an error of even five feet could crash the chopper and kill all who were on board. It was like aiming for a postage stamp in the middle of that blackened jungle.
Enveloped in darkness, he radioed to the man on the ground and said, “What can you give me down there?”
For stealth reasons, the man on the ground could not light up the landing area. In fact, he didn’t even have a flashlight. Reaching in his pocket, he told the pilot, “All I have in my pocket is a Zippo lighter.”The chopper pilot responded, “Well, if you don't mind, can you come outside and flick the Zippo lighter?”
The man did, and in the middle of the jungle, on a top-secret warfare mission, our combat pilot landed a chopper by the tiny light of a Zippo lighter,which pierced through the dominant darkness.
If the pilot had only focused on how dark it was, he would not have landed safely. Instead, he focused his attention on that little flame and allowed its light to dominate his concentration. And because he did, he was guided to safety.
I don't care how dark your past is. I don't care how dark your relationships may be. I don't care how dark your medical diagnosis is. I don't care how dark the government is. I don't care how dark the economy appears. I'm here to tell you, you can fly your faith right to the landing of God's express will if you learn how to fly by the light of His presence.
Jesus’ light is a whole lot bigger and much more brilliant than a Zippo cigarette lighter. Jesus is the light of the entire world. His light is your access to all things eternal. Keep your eyes focused and your mind stayed on Him.
Everything was created through him;
nothing not one thing!
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
John 1:3–5 (MSG)
It’s frustrating to see just how close darkness hangs around when we so sincerely desire and pray that the Lord would shine His light in our lives.
You can be excessively patient with people on Monday, and come Tuesday, they are instantly on your nerves. You can want all of God’s will in one moment, and suddenly you turn around and want to avoid most—if not all—of His will the next moment. You can be so powerfully vision-oriented one week and then feel so narrowly constricted the next week. You can be high on possibilities in one conversation, and then feel hopelessly blocked in another. You can exude boundless energy in one season and feel completely exhausted in the next. You can be excited when you wake up in the morning, and as soon as you get to work, you are ready for the day to end.
If that describes you, here’s the good news that I see in the first chapter of John: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
IYou see, our faith is not a surrender to a light that completely and permanently dispels darkness—at least not this side of heaven. Our faith is a surrender to a light that shines in a darkness that is also present in our lives.
We want a life where light shines without any darkness being able to hang around, but the truth of our lives is this: Jesus is in your life to shine the light of His presence in your darkness because the dark part of who you are is still present.
Paul said that he had to surrender to daily crucifixion. He felt so trapped by the darkness in his life that he didn’t just need strength or courage. He said he needed to be delivered from the darkness, and that only Jesus could deliver him.
You will not, for the remainder of the span of your human existence on earth, experience the total eradication of darkness in your life. But know this: Jesus can shine the light of His presence in your life until darkness will not dominate.