That Gospel message of forgiveness and peace keeps on touching deeper and deeper places in our lives and hearts. The Gospel of Jesus Christ spreads to cover and cleanse all our sins. His mercy pours into our brokenness and makes us new, whole again! God’s grace floods the valleys of our sadness. His peace flows like a river into every nook and cranny of our being, bringing new life.
This is the good news that John proclaims: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). In the Old Testament, “light” speaks to the character of God and the truth of his word. In John’s writings, “light” is the glory of God in the person of Christ and the practice of his Word. The latter is an unveiling and extension of the first. God has revealed himself, not only in Christ but also in his Word. There is no falsehood in what he has revealed. It is right and trustworthy, truth in its purest form.
If you are observing Lent—denying usual comforts, reorienting your life in some way around the things of God—then isn’t this your prayer? “God, illuminate my path! Search my heart and test my anxious thoughts. Shed light on my dark ways. I want a clear picture of what my life is about, and where it is headed. How will I turn from my ways if I cannot see them?”
When we feel the pains of hunger, the habitual desire to watch TV, the consuming desire to buy something, our thoughts turn here: “Search me, O God.” We want to know the ways that sin has entangled us, blinded our perception, distorted our tastes, and weakened our desires. We are preparing the way in our heart for God to speak, making straight a path in our soul for the Spirit to work.
How does God search and test and illuminate? God has many instruments, but we must begin with the sharpest one. The Bible is the Word of God, “sharper than any double-edged sword…dividing soul and spirit…judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). His word searches us, convicts us, enlightens us, and leads us. This is why a greater devotion to the Bible is a good idea during the Lenten season. Remember, we give up and take up. When we give up something, we make a clearing in our lives, but unless the clearing is filled up with light, we stumble around in the dark. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:103-105).
(Journey to the Cross: Readings and Devotions for Lent, pp. 28-29)