Never Walk in Darkness

” . . . never walk in darkness.”

“Jesus spoke to the Pharisees again. ‘I am the light of the world,’ he said. ‘Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.’” (John 8:12)

It’s hard to believe, but Patti and I paid good money to allow this national park ranger to lead us down into a long, deep hole in the ground and turn off all the lights.  Funny, isn’t it, how we’re willing to put our lives into the hands of others?  I often think of that when I take my seat on an airplane.  (Just for the record, this ranger at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is explaining the mining operations that helped provide almost all of the saltpeter used in the production of gunpowder for the War of 1812.  The atmosphere of the cave has preserved the original wooden structures used in the process.)
The ranger turned the lights back on and eventually led us out of the cave, but not before also making us traverse through “Fat Man’s Misery,” a particularly short and narrow passage that required a lot of stooping, squeezing – well, you get the picture.

School starts for our children and youth next week, so I’m particularly mindful of all the times they’re invited to follow – sometimes by those they should trust, and sometimes by those they should not trust.  Some following will lead to light, to healthy growth and fulfillment.  Some following will lead to darkness, to bad habits, dangerous situations, empty feelings, and even destructive moments.  Some following leads to light and some to darkness.  History has proven this to be reality for as far back as we can see.  Certainly our holy scripture has shown the same.

How do we choose which one to follow?  How do we discern which person is ready to lead us to light and which to darkness?  I’m reminded of an encounter I had while giving one of my teen depression seminars in a youth detention center.  I was addressing about thirty serious youth offenders.  Looking into their eyes I could see that they were already a pretty hardened bunch.  I was in the middle of explaining how marijuana could contribute to several different life difficulties when one of them rudely interrupted to help me understand the error of my information.  He was very annoyed.  I turned to him and gently said, “Look, I understand you’ve been given certain information about the safety of pot by suppliers.  I’m giving you information that contradicts that.  I’m sharing information others have given me about how pot has helped lead them down paths of destruction.  Let me ask you this, what do I have to gain from sharing my information about the destructiveness of pot?  I’m not getting paid to speak with you.  I’m here because I care and want to try to help save some lives.  When the pot dealer gives you his or her information about the safety of pot, what do they hope to gain?  Don’t they hope to gain your money and your continued business?  Now you decide who you should trust and whose information you should trust.”

The young man grew quiet and listened attentively during the rest of my presentation.  As the group of young men filed out of the room at the end of the time with me they were required to leave with their hands behind their backs.  My young heckler broke the rules to walk by me and shake my hand.  I could tell from the look in his eyes that I had reached him.  Just maybe . . .

When we’re choosing who we want to follow we best take a very good look at that person’s agenda.  Is their agenda one of self-profiting or one of sharing and caring for others?  When Jesus says, ‘I am the light of the world . . . Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness,’” we know his agenda is one of love, gentleness, compassion, justice, and hope for others.  His way can be trusted to offer light, not darkness, but that’s not always the case with others.

When asked to follow, we always should pause long enough to examine and if necessary question the agenda of the one doing the inviting.  Does their agenda involve their asking us to follow in ways of love, caring, compassion, justice, and peace for all?  If it does then we call that Jesus’ path to light.  If their agenda invites us to follow in ways of self-satisfaction, self-aggrandizement, self ____________, self __________, self ____________ , then we might just be embarking on the path of darkness.

Come to think of it, from time to time we should also examine our own life agenda that we might be inviting others to follow.  What are we offering – light or darkness?  I pray that God will always help me to examine and question, so I follow and invite others to follow Jesus’ journey into the light.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on August 5, 2015.

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