Fifteen years ago I would never have imagined I would be on a journey to serve in long-term missions. I would never have believed that I would be moving to New York City with my wife and three small children for missionary training. But here we are, learning how to reach the lost and to share Christ’s love with others. Fifteen years back feels like a different life, mostly because it was. But it was the start of something — a journey I did not know I was taking. Fifteen years ago I took my first steps into the darkness.
Fifteen years ago I was a rookie cop in Texas. Eagerly, I awaited the challenge of fighting crime and suppressing evil. I was going to right wrongs, defend the weak, and fight evil where ever it reared its head. I was eager to walk into the darkness. Naïve would have been a good word for me. Such is the folly of youth.
I worked in a big city and in a very high crime area. I was, to say the least, immersed in the darkness of man’s heart. Drugs and violence dictated the pace of any given day. I learned what men were capable of doing to one another. Homo hominis lupus est.
God brings us from darkness into light
I learned many things there in the darkness. I learned because God was teaching. He taught me I was powerless to fix the broken world around me. This lesson served to drive me back toward him as my own weakness and brokenness contrasted more and more against his sufficiency, love, grace and power. This was one of two main lessons he spent years hammering into my thick, stubborn head.
The second lesson spoke more directly to my soul. But it is a lesson I still carry. I think of it every time I read John 1:5.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
It came to amaze me. The darkness always made sense. Men are capable of terrible cruelty and immeasurable selfishness. What I could not understand was how the darkness was not winning.
The darkness never wins
No matter how terrible or overwhelming things were, there was always a light, an inexplicable and unexplainable light. We sometimes call it hope or love. But it is so much more than that. Even the tiniest speck of this inextinguishable light shines so brightly in the dark. This is where I truly met God, there in the darkness, staring at that tiny ray of light.
And so here we are. My family is here in the city to carry the light. I am thankful every day that God called me into the darkness. It was there that I saw the light, and it is how he brought us here to a life on mission. It is why we will continue to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.