This article is adapted from Darla’s book Trust God No Matter What!
Author note: Alma 28:14 tells us, “And thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.”
Here I combine a chapter written in December 2003 (when I was thinking about the meaning of Christ’s light) with a chapter I wrote in February of 2005. I was feeling a great desire to turn my thoughts from sorrow over death and destruction among men, to the light of Christ which offers Life in the surest, most eternal sense.
Trusting in the Lord and feasting on His word keep me in the light. Doubt and fear plunge me into darkness. I’ve always been a lover of the light. I sang “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” with gusto when I was a Primary child. I wrote my first poem about a sunrise. “The Lord Is My Light” became one of my favorite hymns.
Nothing bolsters my trust in God like reminders of the Light that is the Savior of the World. How I look forward to the Millennium when Jesus, the Source of all light, will reign. In the meantime, I’ve found that focusing my mind and heart on Christ is the best way to overcome the darkness of the world. In Doctrine and Covenants 88: 50 we read, “Then shall ye know that . . . I am the true light that is in you and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound.” Truly, there is not a day that I can “abound” without the light of Christ. When Jesus appeared to Saul on the Damascus road, He told him He would be sent “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18)
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . . I am the light which shineth in darkness.” (D&C 10: 57-58)
Last spring I visited friends on an island off the coast of South Carolina. I arrived late afternoon and was able to watch the sun set and a big yellow moon rise to enchant the entire seascape. The next morning I awoke just before dawn and couldn’t go back to sleep. I crept quietly out of bed and stole out the back door where I could watch the sun rise over the ocean. The dark sky had begun to lighten and thin, in anticipation of the dawn. The moon was still visible, but fading. Silhouettes became etched with more and more detail as the light increased.
I watched in wonder as the clouds on the horizon took on an ever-increasing rosy hue. Suddenly the top arch of the sun leapt up above the water, bright, glowing, rosy orange. The sun grew steadily to become a flaming ball that transformed the sky and sea with rays of radiant light. The rosy orange faded into a glowing border as the main body of the sun shone a more and more brilliant yellow. The pink under the clouds burnt away to gray as the sun climbed higher in the sky. The glow around the sun grew increasingly bright and white; the light changed the ocean landscape from a mysterious blur to clear, crisp beauty.
I keep that sunrise filed in the archives of my memory for easy access when I need assurance that no matter how dark the night, the dawn always comes. The death of my son ushered me into a dark night of the soul, but the sun is rising again on my life. I’ve learned that life tends to come in cycles. Sunshiny days don’t last indefinitely. Storms come, night descends, and dark clouds of trial or tragedy may obscure the view. But with every dark night there is promise of a dawn.
Light is Truth, Light is Christ
I think of words from Hymn #1: “The morning breaks, the shadows flee … The clouds of error disappear before the rays of truth divine.” Erroneous thinking about life’s happenings can cloud my thinking, keeping me in the dark. However, the truth brings dawn’s light. . . The truth that brings unfailing light into my life is truth concerning the Savior and his Atonement. In D& C 11:11 the Savior says, “I am the light which shineth in darkness.”
In Doctrine and Covenants 88:7 we read, “Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.” Verse 11 says, “And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.”
No wonder I yearn for the dawn; no wonder I bask in the warmth of the sun’s rays; no wonder everything good in life can be compared to light, everything evil to darkness. Only when I turn toward the Light can I see anything clearly.
One evening after a fireside, when I was on my first mission, a few of us stayed to clean up in the kitchen. Suddenly I remembered I had left my coat on one of the chairs on the stage. I went to retrieve it and found everything dark. I couldn’t find the light switch, but since the light was on in the hall and I knew just where my coat was, I forged ahead into the darkness. I banged into a few chairs, but finally found my way to my coat and turned to go back into the hall. Now facing a source of light, I could clearly see the silhouette of every obstacle and was able to easily find my way back across the stage. I like to ponder the analogy: any time we trust Him enough to turn toward the Light, we find our way.
Jesus, the Light of Life
Recently I was witness to a stunning testimony that Jesus is truly “the light which shineth in darkness.” I listened to a man in his thirties tell of losing his job, family, and membership in the Church when he was incarcerated in a state prison. It was the dark night of his soul, and he was in despair. Then service missionaries taught him of a Christ he had not known or understood, though he had been a member of the Church all his life. He learned what repentance really meant and how the Atonement applied to him personally. He dared to trust Christ’s promises in the scriptures, dared to try an experiment on the Word. The light and love of the Lord began to come into his life.
I was astonished when he said he had been released from prison only a few days earlier. His countenance was full of light; his words full of hope. His testimony of the Savior’s power in his life was strong and sure. I saw a living witness that day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, born into the world to wipe away our sins. We are assured in Doctrine and Covenants 93: 1-2 that “every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name . . shall . . . know . . . that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
The light in my soul glows brighter because of a testimony I not only heard, but saw, in the light radiating from a repentant child of God. Jesus is the true Light!
Physical Darkness, Spiritual Darkness
I was a teenager the first time I experienced utter darkness. My family and I had hiked to Timpanogos Caves, perspiring through the bright sunshine of a hot summer day. Forest rangers carrying brightly shining lanterns led us into the cave’s cool, water-carved interior. Deep inside, they turned off the lanterns for one long minute, and suggested we try to see our hands in front of our faces. Most of us had never experienced total darkness before, and were stunned to realize that we could see—NOTHING. I appreciated so much more the laments of the Book of Mormon people who were left in thick darkness following the death of the Savior.
My experience with physical darkness helps me appreciate more fully the awfulness of spiritual darkness—where the soul is without light and truth, without hope in Christ, where NOTHING spiritual is recognized or seen with clarity.
It is the nature of mortality that we experience opposites—including the contrast between darkness and light. However, it strikes me as one of life’s great ironies that—having been taught the true doctrine of Christ— I should ever choose to remain in darkness of any kind. How can I ever lose hope when the cleansing, rejuvenating power of Christ’s light is so clearly available?
Scriptural Symbolism of Light
What a fitting symbol of Christ’s birth the Book of Mormon people were given—the day and a night and a day without darkness! 3 Nephi 1:19 says, “and it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.” Luke 1:79 tells us that Jesus was born “to give light to them that sit in darkness.”
In this wicked “last days” world many sit in darkness. This darkness can encroach on me whenever I fail to remember Christ, the Light. When I’m restless or worried in the middle of a dark night, I’m always relieved when light returns with the dawn. As the darkness thins, I see outlines. As the light increases, I see details, and finally when the sun peeps over the mountains, light streams through my windows. So it is with my spiritual life: as I draw nearer to the Source, the darkness of my life decreases, and my spiritual sight improves. The light of each new day reminds me that Christ’s light may stream into my soul like the light of dawn when I turn to Him—no matter how dark the night has been. The return of light is so comforting, so freeing when I’ve been surrounded by darkness.
Only Light Has the Power to Repel Darkness
I’ve learned I cannot diminish the darkness of the world by fearing it, hating it, attacking it, fighting it, or contending with it. But when I remember the Lord of Light, pray in His name, think of Him, feast on His words, and renew my covenants with Him, His light simply dispels the darkness. That is a truth I can trust. Douglas T. Bentley suggested that we, “picture a darkened room at midday. If we were to open the blinds, the room would immediately be flooded with light, which would displace the darkness. Now let’s reverse the situation for a minute. Imagine being in a lighted room at midnight. If we open the blinds will the room suddenly be flooded with the darkness from outside? Of course not. But . . . why? What is there about light that makes it so different from darkness? Light will repel darkness, but darkness has no power over light. In fact, all darkness appears to be is only the absence of light.” [i]Since Jesus IS the light, spiritual darkness is simply the absence of the Savior. His presence, His spirit repels the darkness of the world.
So many scriptures verify that He is our never-ending source of Light, such as: “He [Christ] is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened” (Mosiah 16:9).
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness (D&C 14:9).
Jesus came to earth in the “meridian of time.” One of the definitions of “meridian” is: “Of or pertaining to midday (the greatest point of light).” He brought His light, the greatest light, to a time of great darkness. Not only is Christ our greatest point of light, but our only hope to counter mortal darkness and spiritual death. Doctrine and Covenants 11:29 says, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world.”
We need to turn off the bad news of the world—turn our eyes from the newspapers, the TV, the videos—then look instead at the good news of the gospel and live in the light. The only effective weapon against darkness is light. Words of light are like flaming candles lighting up a dark world.
To express the idea that light and darkness cannot co-exist, that the tiniest light from Christ prevails over the thickest darkness, I wrote this poem:
One Tiny Candle
Determined to defeat daunting darkness,
I feverishly tried to load it into buckets—
Carried, dumped, loaded again
Until I collapsed, exhausted.
Darkness stood undiminished.
I wept in frustration,
Proven powerless, my task impossible.
A friend appeared
Holding one tiny candle, one flickering flame.
I gasped as that wee speck of light
I threw my bucket far away and ran for candles.
My friend’s candle lost no light by lighting mine.
We two passed our flames to candle after candle.
Each tiny flame ate hungrily, voraciously, big gulps of darkness,
Replacing it with shimmering light.
This effort not exhausting, but joyful!
And I, a child of Light
Recognized at last my one true task.
Light Cleaves Unto Light
Because we are children of God, we are beings of truth and light (D&C 93:29). Unless our hearts are hard, we recognize truth when we hear it. My friend, serving a mission in Fiji, recently told the Christmas story to two beautiful young girls and their mother. They had never heard it before and were sparkly eyed and enchanted—delighted to think they could celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World this Christmas. Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
Words as Light
The words of Christ bring light into our souls. In Alma 5:7 we read, “Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word.” I wonder if we can even begin to comprehend the power of words of everlasting light. Alma also said, “What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell? Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi . . . And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts. (Alma 5:10-13 emphasis mine) Oh what power, what light exists in faith-filled words that transmit the true doctrine of Christ.
The Second Lecture on Faith, page 24, tells us, “It was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers, this testimony having aroused their minds to inquire after the knowledge of God; the inquiry frequently terminated, indeed always terminated when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries and eternal certainty.” I have experienced so many times in my life the power of the witness of others as a vehicle of the Spirit to transmit a testimony of a true light-filled principle from the heart of the speaker to my own heart.
In Psalm 119:105 we read, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. “ We walk daily through the darkness of an evil world. Only Christ’s words, Christ’s Spirit, and the power of the Holy Ghost that accompanies them, can give us light to guide our steps.
How Can I Remember to Turn to the Light?
- I can ask the Savior to “enlighten the eyes of my heart” with clearer spiritual vision. Someone once bluntly asked blind and deaf Helen Keller, “Isn’t it terrible to be blind?” She responded, “Better to be blind and see with your heart, than to have two good eyes and see nothing.” I’ve always loved the idea that the first face Helen saw clearly when she passed through the veil was Jesus’ light-filled face! I need 20/20 spiritual vision as I interact in a dark world. If I want to live in the light of eternity, prayer is a good starting point.
- I love to sing hymns full of the light of the gospel—or recite the words in my mind. One of my favorites is: “The Lord is my light, my all and in all. There is in His sight no darkness at all. He is my Redeemer, My Savior and King. With Saints and with angels his praises I’ll sing.” (Hymn # 89, verse 4)
- I love to feel guided by the light, I love the light of the Holy Spirit that testifies of truth and assures me I am God’s beloved child. I love the light of inspiration when I sense the light of truth. I love the light of testimony when I am overwhelmed with realization that I know that I know. I love the feeling of following the light, being committed to the light. The Holy Ghost can help me to remember the Light.
- I can turn to the “Light” of Christ’s word, looking to the scriptures for guidance and truth. As I read of the birth of the Savior, the Lord of Light, I want to renew my commitment to remember the kind of scripture study most meaningful to me. I take a scripture that lightens my soul, write it in a notebook, and personalize it—adding my name. Example: Doctrine and Covenants 88:67: “And if your eye be single to my glory, [Darla], your whole body shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you.” Then I write how that scripture applies to me, how I feel about it, how I can make it real in my life. It is a powerful exercise, and the light of the Spirit, Christ’s light in my life burns brighter each time I do it.
- I can commit my time, talents, and resources to the building up of the Kingdom and the preparation of a people ready to meet the Savior. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:67 we read, “And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you.” How can my eye be single to His glory? What is His glory? Moses 1:39 tells us, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Any time I’m enlisted in the Lord’s work to bless His children, I am increasing His light in the world.
Jesus, the Light and Redeemer
I’m so grateful to know that the light and power of Christ can thwart Satan’s designs on us and dispel the darkness of his influence. I know that Jesus leaves the ninety and nine and goes after us whenever we stray. He never gives up on us; we can trust Him completely. His light will eventually cause all darkness to flee. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light we shall see light” (Psalm 36:9).
He is truly “The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men” (D&C 93:9). I say with Isaiah, “Let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:5).
This article is adapted from Darla’s book Trust God No Matter What!
[i] Douglas T. Bentley, Abraham’s Seed and Covenant, Cedar Fort, Inc., Springville, Utah, 2003, 114.