The opening words of Psalm 27 are “The Lord is my light.” When I first read those words I thought of a light in the darkness, something that helps us to see our way.
Over the years I have been involved in 11 family retreats, directed 5 summer youth camps, taken a group of 21 on a two week hike along the Appalachian Trail, and directed some 10 youth retreats. Almost all of these events took place at a remote camp or conference site, a place where, when everything was over, you had to walk back to your cabin or room in the dark. For some reason I cannot explain, the one item I forgot almost every time, except for the two weeks on the Appalachian Trail, has been a flash light. I have stumbled over more roots than I can count, have missed several trailheads, and walked straight past a dark cabin multiple times. I seem to have a mental block about flashlights when it comes to my checklist before I leave.
The flashlight image is how most of us think of the light of our Heavenly Father, something to help us find our way. It is a candle to reveal for us the roots, turns in the trail, and our destination as we walk along the paths of life. Certainly, this idea of light goes with the next words in that verse. The Lord is my light and my salvation. Our relationship to our Heavenly Father brings us out of the dark and shows us that straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.
However, there is another aspect of light that we tend to forget. I think we often choose to forget it because it is less pleasant than the warm and inviting light that helps locate home and hearth. This aspect of light is not the flashlight; it is the searchlight. The searchlight reveals. It highlights that which often wishes to remain hidden. The floodlights you may have around your home help you find your way in the night if you are walking around the yard, but you probably had them installed first as a security feature, to highlight the people who would use the cover of darkness to find an entry point into your home.
When God’s light shines on us it reveals us as we really are. Our many faults and failings, the things we would so much like to keep hidden are brought out into the bright light of God’s holiness. This too is salvation, for it is only when we recognize our need for salvation that we fall at the feet of Jesus Christ and ask him to grant us that which he has already prepared for us.
The light of Christ shining out from us, helps us and others find our way in this world. The light of Christ shining on us, reminds us that we never grow out of our need for the forgiveness that comes through Christ. Both of these lights show us the path of salvation.