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In the dark… (Lesson #2)

In the dark…
Last week, I admitted that I love to run in the dark. On a clear morning, I can catch a glimpse of the stars, but few ever catch a glimpse of me. There is an anonymity to that shroud of darkness. No one hears the prayers spoken to the cadence of my footfalls. And those I pass along the way share a mutual code of silence, so that no one ever hears report of my style or speed. In the palace of truth, few would call what I do ‘running’, but early in the morning such truth is swallowed up in darkness. So, I love ‘running’ in those early morning hours. But two weeks ago, the peace of that space turned in an instant to chaos. I drifted slightly to the left as I passed a metal trailer, clipped my thigh on the corner, and flipped from feet to face before I could raise a protective hand. Many who have heard the story, or seen the evidence etched on my face, have reminded me of Lesson #1- Danger lurks in the darkness- Use a light!

Yet, while Lesson #1 demands response for safety reasons, it is Lesson #2 that has captured my heart’s attention. That lesson was learned in the fifteen minutes it took for Greg to run to our house (by his own description- the fastest mile he has run in years), find the car keys, and drive back to my rescue. While my Knight in Shining Armor fetched his trusty steed, the minutes stretched into what seemed like an eternity as I lay by the curb. I was awake, bleeding, unsure the extent of my injuries, with no clear sense of the passage of time, so I began to count the cars that passed by. I never noticed how many cars are on the road at that early hour. One… two… three… four… Each car’s headlights illuminated my body as I lay in the gutter … Five… six … seven… A pair of runners passed by, talking, laughing. They each wore a headlamp, the light of which flashed on my location. Then more cars… Eight… nine… ten… The owner of the home to my right came out to warm up her car. The headlights illuminated my resting place, but after the turn of the ignition, she just went back into her house. Then two more cars passed by, eleven… twelve… shedding light on my resting place. Yet, with all that light, no one saw me. I was invisible.

Over the years, I have read, studied, taught, and preached the parable of the Good Samaritan. While I have faced the uncomfortable reality that too often I am the Priest or the Levite in that story, I always hope and strive to respond like the Good Samaritan, ready to care for the man on the roadside. But never, in all these years, have I imagined what it is like to be the injured man… what he thought as he heard the footsteps of those who passed him by… how he must have yearned for one to stop, to offer a kind word or a moment of
companionship. It is one thing to be alone, but when people pass by, that alone time become deeply lonely. That morning, I was the one on the roadside, wounded, scared, feeling the sting of loneliness as one light after another passed by. I began to wonder how many I have passed over the years… how many have felt invisible in my presence and forgotten as my light faded into the distance. I wonder if someone reading this letter today has fallen into my blind spot so that I have missed your hurt along the way. How many in our world, how many even in our own circles, feel invisible?

Jesus, the Light of the World, passed on an important mission to us. He said: “You are the light of the world.” Our lives should reflect His light in this world. Jesus described a city on the hill casting light across the land. His original audience would have pictured Jerusalem, that sits high on a hill, seen for miles in all directions. At night, the lights of the Jerusalem offered a beacon of hope and a place of refuge to weary travelers. We are called to be that light on the hill in a world of deepening darkness. Yet, if all we do is cast light on the hurt around us, if all we do is point out the brokenness, if all we do is sit on the sidelines commenting on how sad our world has become, our light actually makes those hurting in the gutter feel all the more invisible. The ‘light of the world’ parable must be partnered with the ‘sheep and goats’ parable in Matthew 25. Jesus said:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me
Whenever you did these things for someone overlooked or ignored, 
That was me—you did it for me. 
Matthew 25:35-36, 40 - the Message
My early morning fall taught an important Lesson #2: Light is not enough- use heart. May God give us eyes to see the ‘invisible’ ones, and a heart to care for them.

With you learning how to be a shining sheep,
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