RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- I saw my friend James at a church supper after being out of touch for several years. It was like we'd never been apart.
We talked, laughed, hugged, sang and prayed together. I met his wife for the first time and celebrated with them over the way God had healed wounds in their marriage and family. It was a great evening; we didn't want it to end. We said goodnight, promising each other we'd meet again soon.
A few weeks later, James was dead. Chronic illness caught up with him. He hung on for days in the hospital, but his body was worn out.
This life seems so strong and sure for a season -- and then it's over. We try to escape death, delay it, appease it, fight it and deny it. "Do not go gentle into that good night," the poet Dylan Thomas advised. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Rage all you want; death will come for you one day. But darkness, its close companion, is a choice.
"There was the true Light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. … But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," the Apostle John declared of Jesus Christ (John 1:9-12, NASB). "And the Word become flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14a, NASB).
Later in John's Gospel, Jesus Himself said, "This is the judgment, that the Light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil" (John 3:19, NASB).
Men love the darkness, but God sent His Son, the Light of the world, to rescue us from eternal darkness. By His resurrection, Christ put darkness to death. Two millennia later, however, not everyone knows the truth. That's why missionaries and other servants of God go to places of darkness, no matter the potential cost. They bring the Light of the Gospel not only through their words and actions, but by their presence.
"There have been several attacks recently," wrote a worker who lives in one such place. "Often the gunfire and explosions would cease, and I would think it must be over, but it would start again. I was sharply reminded that we are here to pray," and not only pray, but to be, to love, to speak and to lift up the flaming torch of Christ amid great darkness.
On a recent plane trip, IMB President Tom Elliff struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger who asked him, "What do you do ?"
"I chase darkness," Elliff replied.
Bewildered, the passenger inquired, "Are you in lighting?"
"In a way," Elliff told the man.
Reflecting on the encounter, the International Mission Board leader said, "We are indeed 'chasers after darkness,' looking for the black holes of sin in our world and thrusting into that darkness the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ."
My friend James experienced darkness in his life, but when Christ filled his soul with light and salvation, he became one of the most joyful witnesses I've ever known. This Easter, I know James is celebrating the resurrection in the presence of the Risen One.
Erich Bridges is an International Mission Board global correspondent. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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