Monday, September 2, 2013

Not Glowing in the Darkness

At 18, I moved into the infamous Wright Quad. I toted as much matter as I calculated could squeeze into my cookie cutter dormitory. It was perfect. So college, so festive. Lofted beds, free-standing wardrobes, and desks with attached bulletin boards crowded between cinderblock walls bathed in white, ready to tough out another year without air conditioning, another set of baby college students, and another shade removed from remembering the carpet's original color.

In our attempts to make our box of campus space look homier, my roommate and I tacked up posters, made out beds (for the first of the three total times that would happen) with colorful bedding we had tie-dyed ourselves, and strung lights left over from Christmases to brighten the dark corners of the room.

As a top priority of decor, we found a tall new friend and recruited him to help us in covering our ceiling in all one hundred of the glow-in-the-dark stars I had purchased. Those stars brought us such joy! We showed them off proudly to all of our room's visitors in those first weeks.

When you are a little Christian like me, they warn you about big secular schools like IU. Parents, churches, friends, friends' parents, they all tell you how very dark it will be.

Of course, they are quite right. And here we are, us Christians, stuck trying to figure out what to do with all of this unsupervised darkness. We have options. Some join the dark side. Statistically, we are reminded every Sunday of our senior year of high school, that will be most of us. 75-90%, depending on the pessimism and sources of those whom you ask.

Then there are those, and I fear they are too numerous, who function like the stars stuck to my ceiling my freshman year of college. They glow brightly in the darkness, at least at first. They are different than the dark. They even have properties of light. But, over time, the light dims until a ray of light - maybe CRU on Thursday evening, church on Sunday morning, an occasion phone call from an old Christian friend, or even a summer back at home - recharges the glow. This cycle is predictable. Worse, it is totally dependent on the situation. Worst, no matter how brightly that glow-in-the-dark star glows, no matter how much it sticks out in the dark, all it allows you to see is itself. Perhaps it is comforting and perhaps it is fun, or even inspiring to look at, but when night comes and you need to read or to find your way out of the rooms or the woods or the night, you won't grab a glow-in-the-dark star, or even a pack of them. They are only a weak regurgitation. They make no dent in darkness.

I want to be more like a flashlight . Receiving light directly from the Light Himself, I want to shine the darkness out of business. If God is always Light, and I am placed in Christ, I can always shine. I don't need to wait for a pep talk. Darkness simply cannot exist where light makes an appearance. That is the goal: I want to shine so that people just see Jesus, the destroyer of the dark.

Light is a crucial component of God's kingdom. Revelation tells us that in our eternal home, night never falls, and that God Himself will illuminate everything. That is a clean, inexhaustible energy. I don't want to glow in the dark. I want to inexhaustibly, regardless of circumstance, just plain shine.