Christ: The Light That Shines in Darkness

Christ: The Light That Shines in Darkness


My office in the
Relief Society Building has a perfect view of
the Salt Lake temple. And every night, as regular as
clockwork, the outdoor temple lights turn on at dusk. The temple is the
steady, reassuring beacon outside my window. But one night this past
February, my office remained exceptionally
dim as the sun went down. As I looked out the window,
the temple was dark. The lights hadn’t turned on,
and suddenly I felt very somber because I couldn’t
see the temple spires that I had glimpsed
every single evening for years. Seeing darkness where I expected
to see light reminded me that one of the fundamental needs
we have in order to grow is to stay connected to the
source of light–Jesus Christ. He is the source of our
power, the Light and the Life of the World. Without a strong
connection to Him, we begin to spiritually die. Knowing that, Satan tries to
exploit the worldly pressures that we all face. He works to dim our light,
short-circuit the connection, cut off the power
supply–leaving us alone in the dark. These pressures are common
conditions in mortality, but Satan works very hard
to isolate us and tell us we are the only ones
experiencing them. Some of us are
paralyzed with grief. When tragedies
overtake us, when life hurts so much that
we can’t breathe, when we’ve taken a beating like
the man on the road to Jericho and been left for dead,
Jesus comes along. He pours oil into our wounds,
he lifts us tenderly up, he takes us to an inn,
and he looks after us. To those of us in grief,
He says, “I will … ease the burdens which are
put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel
them upon your backs, … that ye may know of a
surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in
their afflictions.” Christ heals wounds. Some of us are just so tired. Elder Holland said: “It is not
intended that we run faster than we have strength. … But [in spite of]
that, I know … many of you run [very,] very
fast and that [the] energy and emotional supply sometimes
registers close to empty.” When expectations
overwhelm us, we can step back and ask Heavenly
Father what to let go of. Part of our life experience
is knowing what not to do. But even so, sometimes
life can be exhausting. Jesus assures us, “Come unto
me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest.” Christ is willing to
join with us in the yoke and pull in order to
lighten our burdens. Christ is rest. Some of us feel we don’t
fit the traditional mold. For various reasons, we don’t
feel accepted or acceptable. The New Testament
shows the great efforts that Jesus went to reach
out to all kinds of people: lepers, tax collectors,
children, Galileans, harlots, women, Pharisees, sinners,
Samaritans, widows, Roman soldiers, adulterers,
the ritually unclean. In almost every
story He is reaching to someone who wasn’t
traditionally accepted in society. Luke 19 tells the story
of the chief tax collector in Jericho named Zacchaeus. He climbed a tree in order
to see Jesus walk by. Zacchaeus was employed
by the Roman government and viewed as
corrupt and a sinner. But Jesus saw him up in
the tree and called to him, saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste,
and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” And when Jesus saw the
goodness of Zacchaeus’s heart and the things that
he did for others, He accepted his
offering, saying, “This day is salvation
come to this house, [for] he also is a son of Abraham.” Christ tenderly
told the Nephites, “I have commanded that none
of you should go away.” Peter had that powerful
epiphany in Acts 10 where he declared,
“God hath shewed me that I should not call any
[person] common or unclean.” It is an unwavering requirement
of Christian disciples and Latter-day Saints to show
true love to one another. Jesus extends the same
kind of invitation to us that He did to Zacchaeus:
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if [you] hear my
voice, and open the door, I will come in to [you],
and will sup with [you], and [you] with me.” Christ sees us in our tree. Some of us are splintering
with questions. Not many years ago,
I was weighed down and irritated with questions
that I could not find answers to. Early one Saturday morning
I had a little dream. In the dream I
could see a gazebo, and I understood that I
should go stand in it. It had five arches
encircling it, but the windows were
made out of stone. I complained in the dream,
not wanting to go inside because it was claustrophobic. But the thought came into my
mind that the Brother of Jared had patiently melted
stones into clear glass. Glass is a stone that has
undergone a state change. When the Lord touched the
brother of Jared’s stones, they glowed with
light, and suddenly I was filled with a desire
to be in that gazebo more than any other place. It was the very place–the only
place–for me to truly “see.” The questions that were
bothering me didn’t go away, but more brightly in my mind was
the question after I woke up: “How are you going to
increase your faith, like the brother of Jared,
so that your stones can be turned into light?” Our mortal brains are made to
seek understanding and meaning in tidy bundles. I don’t know all the reasons
why the veil over mortality is so thick. This is not the stage in
our eternal development where we have all the answers. But it is the stage where
we develop our assurance (or sometimes our hope) in the
evidence of things not seen. Assurance comes in ways that
aren’t always easy to analyze, but there is light
in our darkness. Jesus said, “I am the
light, and the life, and the truth of the world.” For those seeking truth,
it may seem at first to be the foolish claustrophobia
of windows made out of stone. But with patience and
faithful questions, Jesus can transform our windows
of stone to glass and light. Christ is light to see. Some of us feel we can
never be good enough. The scarlet dye of
the Old Testament was not only colorful,
but it was colorfast, meaning that its vivid
color stuck to the wool and would not fade no matter
how many times it was washed. Satan wields that
reasoning like a club: white wool stained scarlet can
never go back to being white. But Jesus Christ
declares, “My ways [are] higher than your ways,” and
the miracle of His grace is that when we
repent of our sins, His scarlet blood
returns us to purity. It isn’t logical, but
it is nevertheless true. “Though your sins be as
scarlet, they shall be … white as snow; though
they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” The Lord says
emphatically: he or she “who has repented of [sin],
the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord,
remember them no more.” In essence: Come, let
us reason together. You made mistakes,
and all come short. Come unto me and repent. I will remember the sin no more. You can be whole again. I have a work for you to do. Christ is wool made white. But what are the
practical steps? What is the key to reconnecting
to the power of Jesus Christ when we are flickering? President Nelson
said it very simply: “The key is to make and
keep sacred covenants. … It is not a complicated way.” Make Christ the
center of your life. If you feel that the beacon of
your testimony is sputtering and darkness is closing
in, take courage. Keep your promises to God. Ask your questions. Patiently melt stone to glass. Turn to Jesus Christ,
who loves you still. Jesus said, “I am the light
[that] shineth in darkness, and the darkness
comprehendeth it not.” That means no matter
how hard it tries, the darkness cannot
put out that light. Ever. You can trust that His
light will be there for you. We, or people we love,
may temporarily go dark. In the case of the
Salt Lake Temple, the facility manager,
Brother Val White, got a call almost immediately. People had noticed. What was wrong with
the temple lights? First, the staff went in person
to every electrical panel in the temple, and they manually
turned the lights back on. Then they replaced the batteries
in the automatic power supply and tested them to find
out what had failed. It’s hard to get the
lights back on by yourself. We need friends. We need each other. Just like the temple
facility staff, we can help each other
by showing up in person, recharging our
spiritual batteries, repairing what went wrong. Like Temple Square
at Christmastime, we may only be one
light bulb on a tree. But we still shine
our small light, and all together we
attract millions of people to the house of the Lord. Best of all, as President
Nelson has encouraged, we can bring the Savior’s
light to ourselves and to people that
are important to us by the simple act of
keeping our covenants. In a variety of ways, the
Lord rewards that faithful act with power and with joy. I testify you are beloved. The Lord knows how
hard you are trying. You are making progress. Keep going. He sees all your
hidden sacrifices and counts them to your good
and the good of those you love. Your work is not in vain. You are not alone. His very name, Emmanuel,
means “God with us.” He is surely with you. Take a few more steps
on the covenant path, even if it’s too
dark to see very far. The lights will come back on. I testify of the truth
in Jesus’s words, and they are filled with
light: “Draw near unto me and I will draw
near unto you; seek me diligently and ye
shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and
it shall be opened unto you.” In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen.

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