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Cones of Light in the Darkness, by Phil Ware Phil Ware

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    I’m an ambivalent flier. I don’t get overly worried when I fly. I wasn’t overly concerned even when we flew through LAX on our way to Thailand the day after the Unabomber threatened to bring down a plane. But I don’t particularly like it.

    I do strategize my flights so that I get the most out of them. If I’m going to be away from home, I want to make each second count so that I can enjoy my family when I get back home. This means I read stuff I hadn’t gotten around to reading, I brainstorm with a pad and pencil, I write on my laptop computer, I do intentional people watching, and when I’m not doing that, I pay attention to what’s going on around me in the plane or on the ground.

    I flew back into Austin late one night on the last plane leaving Dallas. It always leaves late, full of bleary-eyed, somewhat smelly, disheveled, grumpy passengers and flight attendants who are long overdue for their rest. It brings out the best and worst in all of us. This night, my strategy flew out the exhaust port with the blue water and I just gawked at what was going on. I was too tired to do anything and simply wanted my brain to rest until the rest of my body could catch up and join it in the cool sheets, at home on my own bed, next to the wife I love.

    As we began to descend, I looked down to see empty roads and freeways. For those of us who commute in Austin, the empty roads were a rare site. But what really struck me was how the few cars on the road were distinctly visible: in the middle of the ribbons of darkness scarcely noticeable in the pitch of night, two cones of bright light stuck out vibrantly as they twisted and turned their way toward their destination.

“You are the light of the world!”
    I know we are supposed to be the light of the world. I’ve heard and even preached sermons about how a small candle can dispel the darkness around it and we all need to do is let our little light shine. I even made a graphic to reflect that concept some years ago. But this night, bleary-eyed and longing for home, not really wanting to be much of anything but asleep, I was struck by the powerful image of those cones of light.

    “You are the light of the world!” Jesus said in an age long ago and so very far away (Matthew 5:14-16). Yet in the surrealism of this darkness, in the din of snoring and whining worn out travelers, and in my own mind-numbing exhaustion, it made more sense now than ever before.

    Our world is lost in darkness. That’s not a matter of debate, it’s repeatedly bannered in the headlines and trumpeted by the siren call of emergency vehicles. The people around us are travelers without any destination. Even worse, they are travelers without any illumination to negotiate a path they not only can’t follow, they can’t even find. But to God, from his lofty perch somewhere beyond our most glorious imaginations, we must look like little cones of light, seeking to negotiate what the world cannot, simply because by his grace we have a Light they have not yet found.

    I know you may not feel very vibrant, excited, or luminous. But I believe that John was right when he said that the One in us is not only greater than the one in the world (1 John 4:4), he also gives us a Light the world does not have. We have the Light to negotiate the Way our world cannot even see. We have a light to find our path home to a Family the world doesn’t even have.

    How can we not shine and show others the way to our Home?


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