[Originally published as Light Shines Best in the Darkness]
By Nate Loper: This past week I led a sunset tour for two people who came to the canyon to see God’s amazing creation. This time of year is particularly fantastic, as we are in the middle of our monsoon season. During much of July and August, we have the best cloud formations over the canyon and near-daily afternoon rain showers which bring about the most stunning sunsets.
While we were at Lipan Point (my favorite overlook on the South Rim), we watched as ever-advancing clouds covered the canyon below. As the depths darkened, suddenly a window opened in the heavens above and streams of light shown down, illuminating the Tonto Platform of the Bright Angel Shale below. Standing there, we marveled as the crepuscular rays continuously circled around—reminiscent of some celestial dance of the maypole.
It was at that moment I realized something profound, something which relates to us personally today. If there had been no darkness above, we would never be able to see and enjoy the beauty of those beams. On a bright sunny day, we would take no notice of the uniqueness of the light just then. Any illumination from above would simply be lost among the wash of light which bathed the entire canyon equally. Yes, the canyon would still be there in all its might and majesty, but we would not have paused to say to each other, “Wow, look at that!”
In some ways, it reminds me of the way God is seen in our lives. God is good all the time. His glory and greatness are never diminished, no matter the situations we see around us. Yet, sometimes, in our human and finite frailty, we often see Him at work in greater or lesser ways. This really is a shortcoming of our own nature; our perception is often circumstantial. For most people on this planet, we commonly see God at work when He “moves.” It’s when we tend to recognize or acknowledge His hand at work, and it’s oftentimes in the midst of our great need.
Light is most-often noticeable when it singularly shines in the presence of darkness. How noticeable or useful is a candle in a well-lit room of afternoon sunlight? How much more noticeable and beneficial is the exact same candle in the darkness of night? Has the candle changed at all? No. Nothing about the candle has changed in its luminosity or nature. It gives out the same light day or night. It’s only our perception of the candle in relation to its surroundings which makes us take note of, and cherish its abilities.
In many ways, this relates to our view of God. His sustaining power and goodness continue day and night, never faltering nor diminishing. He is good, all the time. It’s our perception and circumstances that create a variance in our vernacular and adoration of Him. He is unchanged. We are the ones who change.
And indeed, we should be changed. We should never walk away the same from a new revelation of God. Just as the face of Moses shone with light from the glory of his encounter with God, we should carry with us the radiance of our Redeemer into dark places. For it’s truly there that the light will be most beneficial and will stand out from the rest.
Had it not been for the darkness of clouds that overshadowed the canyon that day, I would not have taken a picture, would not have a memory to hold on to, and would not be writing this to you now. I thank God for the darkness that day. For within darkness, the light appeared more incredible than without. We can give thanks to our Creator, as the one who separated light from darkness. For it’s in both that we see the invariable beauty and glory of God.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 ESV