I woke up in the middle of the night. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, I became aware of a round shape on the edge of my bed.
I thought it was a headhunter.
It’s not like we had a lot of headhunters roaming southeastern Texas in my childhood. But I was seven or eight with a vivid imagination. I constantly pictured someone hiding in dark corners, or reaching for my ankles in the darkness under the bed, or staring at me in the darkness while I slept.
I decided if the headhunter thought I was asleep, he wouldn’t bother me. So I laid very still, closed my eyes tight, and drifted off again.
In the morning, when I woke up to light streaming in my room, I saw the rounded head of my teddy bear beside me and had a good laugh at myself.
During this time, my brother and I shared bunk beds. I had the top bunk, since I was four years older. When he was little, my brother used to have some pretty wild dreams. Once he woke up in the night and toddled to my parents’ room to tell them there was a snake in our bed. They accompanied him back to our bedroom to turn on the light and assure him there was no snake . . . except there was a snake. The box springs under the top bunk were uncovered, and a snake was making its way through the coils. I happened to be asleep on the top bunk.
I don’t remember the sequence of events, but I was retrieved from bed, and our neighbor somehow appeared. I don’t remember her face because she usually wore a bonnet. She looked like an extra from Little House on the Prairie or maybe a middle-aged Holly Hobbie. Her name was Mrs. Beeson, and she seemed an expert on all manner of flora and fauna. She told us this was not a poisonous snake, and it was probably after a nest of eggs in the window next to the bed. Still, she chopped its head off. I can still remember watching in awe as the snake’s head and body still moved though they were severed.
In one situation, light exposed false reasons to fear and brought comfort. In another situation, light exposed a potential danger to be dealt with. In both, light showed the difference between reality and imagination.
Light provides rich imagery and symbolism in the Bible. This Bible Study Tools article says, “Throughout the Old Testament light is regularly associated with God and his word, with salvation, with goodness, with truth, with life. The New Testament resonates with these themes, so that the holiness of God is presented in such a way that it is said that God “lives in unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6:16). God is light (1 John 1:5) and the Father of lights (James 1:17) who dispels darkness.”
Ephesians 5:13 says, “When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” When we shine God’s light and truth into our lives, we discern reality from imagination. We see what’s innocent and what’s dangerous. Our fears are comforted with God’s power and grace. We see areas that need cleaning, like when the afternoon light exposes missed spots of dust. We see the next step on the path ahead as God’s “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
God’s light even exposes our hearts to us. Jeremiah asks, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (17:9). We can fool ourselves about our motives, even our own sin. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (emphasis mine).
Earlier in Ephesians 5, Paul says :
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible (verses 8-13).
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). We need to regularly shine God’s light on our circumstances, our culture, and our own hearts to have the right perspective and response.
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