DARK ALLEYS AND ILLUMINATED PATHS
I run in the mornings. I love the summer; even though it is hot, I am assured a lighted path. My mind can immerse itself in my IPod, in memories, in prayers. In the winter, I am on guard. The very same path I run is dark and shadowy and, being a woman, one must always watch for predators. My mind thinks on the runner’s body they found in the Indian Bend wash, the coyotes I’ve seen scavenging for food, the bobcat, hidden fears.
Amazing what a little light can do.
The dark cannot survive the light.
Un-forgiveness is a dark and murky place for our human hearts.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)
The light of Christ seeps into this very darkness and illuminates it with healing mercy.
But what about the times when it appears the darkness is winning?
It was the 1980’s and I remember hearing a story about a church-going lady that has stuck with me to this day. My eyes prick with the memory of the events. She lived in a lower-class community. She had many friends, a loving family and children who loved her. She sought to spend her life giving and caring for those the world left behind. She was going house to house to ask for money to give to the needy in the community on behalf of her church. While she was out on this mission, she went missing.
It was spread across the news. The troops of her church rallied. The posters of her beautiful face plastered on light poles, message boards and newscasts. Where was she?
It was later found that she had been abducted, tied up on a chair and abused. The two men who did this, did it for the less than three dollars that was in her pocket book.
Her family spoke of how they forgave. They knew she would want that from them. They did it to honor her and because of what they believe.
This kind of forgiveness would take me years. I would have to seriously work at it. They did it immediately. And to be face to face with an oppressor and to forgive them in the heat of the moment? It’s just not in me.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So many questions. So much I don’t understand.
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.
After torturing her sufficiently, they realized there really was no more money. They killed her that day.
Darkness appears to have won.
The abducted woman went to her grave with forgiveness in her heart.
Her family knew this, but how did the world know?
It was one of those “Dateline” or 20/20 type shows that really revealed the amazing part about it. Her convicted killer told the story of how, even as they were abusing her, she was forgiving them. They had not bound her mouth, because they were asking her where all the money was. She gave them her whole purse and told them to take it all. Told them she had more than money to offer them. She told them about Christ. She shared His story. She shared her life and continually told them she forgave them. Her message got through, to more than one.
And her story is just one of thousands. As I was researching to find her name and the exact details, I came across hundreds of other stories of Christ’s power at work in the hearts of abused, raped, tortured individuals who illuminated Christ’s light into the darkness with their immediate forgiveness toward their oppressors.
Although I was young, I remember my mom explaining the word “martyr” to me; (probably to stop all my questions!)
Worldwide, over 70 million people are martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is in just the last 100 years!
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)
The end of the story is that one of those thieves repented. (Sound familiar?) His darkness was turned. The light of Christ shone through her into the darkness of that place she was held.
She apparently wasn’t nodding off in church during the message about being the “hands and feet of Christ.”
Even in dark situations, light overcomes.
Share the stories of the light. You never know who it might impact.