I had a few days off last November and was boarding a plane. Was I traveling to a beach? Somewhere I could parasail? Somewhere with tropical breezes and palm trees?
Nope. I was flying to Wisconsin. In November.
If you’ve never experienced a Wisconsin November, let me explain. This is a depressing month in the Midwest. The green of summer is gone, as are the oranges, reds, and yellows of fall, leaving only brown and grey. The snow hasn’t yet freshened up the dreary landscape or decorated the bare tree branches bleakly holding themselves against a colorless sky. Not only that, but the dark days of winter begin with a vengeance, a time when weeks can pass without a hint of sunshine and the damp cold seeps into your bones. En masse, people in the Midwest begin their battle with seasonal affective disorder.
As I left my 68-degree sunny mountain home and stepped into one of those sardine cans masquerading as an airplane, part of me wanted to turn back. Apparently the part that wanted to turn back wasn’t my feet, because I kept moving forward and plopped into a middle seat in the back of the plane, in one of those coveted spots with a view of people and their full bladders lining up in the aisle.
Accompanying the view was the overbearing heat inside the plane, which had been baking in the sun and preparing me for this sauna-like spa experience. If I could have moved a muscle, it would have been the perfect environment for doing hot yoga.
But I wasn’t in the mood, anyway. It’s hard to do yoga while you’re hyperventilating because of claustrophobia. You see, I had made the mistake of looking ahead of me at the mass of bodies stuffed into the tube of metal and decided we were all TOO CLOSE TOGETHER! I closed my eyes and started praying—hard. Did I mention that an overheated plane does not mix well with a hot-flashing woman?
With God’s help, I made it to my destination without causing a scene. That’s when the darkness descended. As I stepped off the plane, Wisconsin draped its heavy clouds around my body and psyche for two solid days until I felt like an ambulatory coma patient.
And just why had I flown to Wisconsin in November? Love makes you do crazy things. For someone who’s had issues with depression, it’s a sacrifice to step into the darkness. But when you love your child, you do these things. I wanted to see my son’s new home and share his world. And I knew I wouldn’t see him at Christmas time.
My trip gave me a new realization of what Jesus sacrificed for us because of love. Yes, He offered the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. But He also stepped down from the glorious light of heaven, down into the darkness of sinful humanity. He confined himself in a human body with all its limitations, its pangs of hunger and thirst. These must have been sacrifices, too. I wonder if He felt claustrophobic in that body. And did He miss the light of heaven?
I’m so glad Jesus stepped down into our darkness, because now we have access to His light. Isaiah 60:19 says, “The Lord will be your everlasting light.” Have you ever noticed how the light shines at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1:3 when God created it, and how it continues to shine throughout the Scriptures as we read about the Light of the world and how we are to walk in the light? Throughout Exodus, Job, the Psalms, Isaiah, and the Gospels, the theme of light continues until we’re offered the revelation that in the future, on the new Earth, God himself will be our light. God’s word is infused with light!
Even as we live in a world that often seems much darker than a Wisconsin November, the Son’s light is available to us all. His light is as warm and lovely as that sunny spot near the window where cats love to nap, but it can also be as brilliant and overpowering as the equatorial sun at noonday. It often needs to be a strong kind of light, one that can cut through the dense fog we sometimes find ourselves lost in.
On the last morning of my Wisconsin trip last November, I prayed and then exercised at my hotel. Then I discovered I could tune the radio to one of those sleep-aid stations. This one played the sounds of the ocean, complete with the cries of seagulls! I thanked the Lord for exercise that perks me up, for the music of the waves, and for the joy He brings when we turn away from the darkness and into His glorious light. Mostly I thanked Him for coming down into this darkness for me.
If you’re lost in darkness today, ask the Light of Israel to show you the way. No plane ride required.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. Exodus 13:21
For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29
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. Revelation 21:23