Blinded By the Light
“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” John 1:9
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about light. It’s been a source of beauty and of blindness, so I’ve found myself feeling both appreciation and apprehension towards it. Here’s the basis for this sense of conflict. Each morning I awake and am thankful for the sunrise. How can one not be thankful for a sunny day? Then, as I drive to work, those dancing rays of sunshine change their tempo and become dart-like beams of light as a battalion of them attack my windshield and I cannot see the road before me. I feel as if I’ve had a Damascus Road experience every morning this week and I’m wondering if, prior to Bruce Springsteen’s penning of “Blinded by the Light”, Saul/Paul wasn’t the original scribe of these words! It’s rather frightening, this blindness in the face of light, and that makes me wonder just how similar our earthly light is to God’s eternal light? If the sun’s rays on earth can blind me, then what will happen when I stand before the Light of the World? How will I ever be able to see then?
While the unknowns of Heaven far outweigh the knowns, of this I am certain: when it comes to Heavenly light, all earthly principles will be obsolete. For example, on earth, light travels from the sun to the earth and as it moves, the wavelengths are bent and bounced off particles of dust, water, and gas. And, as if these elements were not enough, we can add to them an obstacle course of pollutants as well. All in all, by time light arrives to us, it has literally pin-balled its way through our atmosphere, arriving both distorted and diffracted. But, as God provides beauty even in bedlam, these microscopic collisions between dust and daylight not only brighten our world but they also color it with blue skies, red sunsets, a yellow sun, and brown windshields. Did I mention that when the sunlight blinds me each morning it does so through a windshield that suddenly appears brown? Did I leave that out? Hmmm. Perhaps it’s not important. After all, it’s the blinding nature of the sunlight coming through my windshield that gives me trouble…surely it’s not the cleanliness of my windshield that’s a factor in my blindness…surely not…
And, before leaving the subject of windshields, I doubt that I’m the only one who finds it difficult to keep one clean. Truth be told, even when I’ve washed it, somehow the windshield never seems to remain spotless. Between the kamikaze insect attacks that are unleashed after dark and the tell-tale paw prints that indicate the top of the car has once again been the nightly stake-out for our ever vigilant (or vilified) cat, somehow, clean windshields are a rarity. And, in all honesty, until the sunlight hits the glass I’m not even aware of all the nightly graffiti that’s been written upon it. But when the light hits it each morning, I am abundantly aware of all the spots and blemishes…and the nature of light and its diffusing quality once again flashes before me. And I wonder, what will pure light be like? What will it be like to encounter light that isn’t diffracted or distorted? What will it be like to never again have a dirty windshield that obstructs the path of light? Earthly light bends and curves; eternal light neither bows nor cambers. On earth, sunlight has countless particles that obstruct its path; in Heaven, nothing will interfere with the pathway of the Son’s light. No more particles of pride, selfishness, vanity, greed, or obstinacy; no more windshields ridden with the previous night’s encounters; no more detours. In Heaven, the light that reaches us will come straight from its Creator: pure, direct, and unbent.
It’s hard to imagine any light other than the only one we know. It’s hard to imagine any place that is outside our present frame of reference. How do you picture that which you have not seen? How do you fathom that which is beyond your ability to even imagine? C.S. Lewis captured this quandary in his book, The Last Battle. (This is the last book in the Narnia series and if you’ve never read it, I strongly suggest you do…after reading the previous six! Its use of symbolism and imagery make it, in my opinion, one of the best tools to teach Biblical philosophy to children…and probably to adults as well!) While not giving away the ending of the book, suffice it to say that toward the end of the story the characters find themselves in a place that is indescribable. They have seen the Narnia they knew destroyed and now they are uncertain of their present location. Here are some quotes from the last few pages.
“Peter,” said Lucy, “where is this, do you suppose?”
“Is it not Aslan’s country?” said Tirian.
“As soon as I walked through the door, the first wonder was that I found myself in this great sunlight.”
“There isn’t a country anywhere like this in our world. Look at the colors! You couldn’t get a blue like that in our world!”
“This is the land I have been looking for all my life. Come now, further up and further in!”
I think this is an apt depiction of my encounter with light. I know it in its earthly form, but I cannot fathom it in its truest, purest, Heavenly form. I know it literally when it enlightens that which is around me and when it blinds me from that which lies before me. I know it figuratively when it bounces off my iniquities and when it highlights my sin-laden windshield. But the light that I know is diffused and distorted; it is not straight and true. What will it be like to not only encounter the Light of the World but to actually enter into it? I cannot imagine, but I know that when I do, I will want to go “further up and further in”.
And so I contemplate the blinding nature of light. In its earthly state, it moves from the sun to the earth, constantly distorted by the particles in its path; in its eternal state, it moves from the Son to the saint, without diffraction but on a perfectly straight path. And so, until I enter into the Light and see things as they were meant to be seen…until I can look upon the Source of Light free from the separation of a dirty windshield…until then, I will no doubt continue to be blinded by this earthly light. But I will keep my focus upward; I will continue to move further up and further in, knowing that one day I will stand before the Source of Light that will enable me to, at last, see things as they were meant to be seen, and not as they currently appear. I will leave behind the world of floating (sin) particles and will step into the realm of forgiveness…of unfettered light and of clean windshields! Blinded by the light? Only for a little while longer, and then I will be binded to the Light!