I don’t like the dark, because it’s just, well…dark. I mean, mommies don’t hear words uttered from a four-year-old like, “Oh, please send me into that dark, dark room, Mommy.” And it’s not easy to outrun the boogie man while long-jumping from the doorway into bed. Take it from a once four-year-old who knows these things.
No, many children go through stages when stock shares in nightlights skyrocket. The Duewel household sure did.
At one time a Mickey nightlight smiled bright in the hallway, while Winnie shined in the bedrooms. With all the lights below, we had to balance the beams with stars flickering high on the ceiling. And in case you walked groggy to the restroom in the early hours, no worries, a motion light would shock the sleepy right out of you.
My husband—who’s all grown up and prefers the dark—would joke he needed his sunglasses to “Catch a wink of sleep around here.” I’d laugh and tell him when the kids were gone we could sleep in the black of night. That was, however, before I discovered spot-lights at Christmas and garden-lights in spring. And I’m not sure, but it seems summer crickets play louder by candlelight. Besides, a person can hurt themselves fumbling in the dark. We need the light.
Yes, the dark can be a painful place—the last few days a dim difficulty for our family. Yet everyone experiences those dark, painful days. A trial that seems to hang on like summer solstice, as one sleepless sunrise rolls into the next. A job loss. An illness. The loss of a friend. The loss of a pet. The worry of tomorrow. The heart hurts when it hurts. But as my heart has hurt this week, it’s also gripped by a nightlight of hope. A spark in the dark with these simple words, “In this world we will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) NIV.
With Easter approaching we are reminded of what Jesus meant when he said, “I have overcome the world.” Scripture says that Mary Magdeline arrived at the tomb while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been rolled away. Telling Simon Peter and the other disciples, “…They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20:2) NIV. Reading on, it says Simon Peter showed up and went straight into the tomb, “He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in the place, separate from the linen.” Or let’s look closer at another translation of this sentence, “ …and the handkerchief that had been around his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” (John 20:7) NKJV.
There is a great deal of debate on what this deliberate placement of the linen meant. Some say the verse prophetic—Jesus folding the napkin as if to say “it is finished.” In Jewish tradition, a folded napkin symbolized the master of the house was finished and would not be returning to the table. But, is there a deeper meaning to this detail?
I’m not certain why Jesus folded the cloth, or why the linen was off by itself. But I am sure everything about Jesus is intentional. The Son of God, a deliberate message of love and light for our dark world.
If I close my eyes, I can see the message alive. The tomb dark, while rays of grace reflect off the stone like crystals shoot back light. Jesus sits up, he is in no hurry. Death can not steal His breath. Men can not steal his body. He has overcome! Our dark future shines, for perfection paid off sin. He gently places the cloth aside, already forgiving those to blame. Then Jesus leaves the dark tomb, turning on the light to eternal life.
And that’s the image I hold onto. In troubling times when worries threaten to steal my sleep, and night shadows loom longer than usual, I think of the folded linen and the intentional love that placed it there. Then suddenly the dark doesn’t seem so…well, dark after all!
“The cloth was still lying in the place, separate from the linen.” (John 20:7) NIV.
Have a Blessed Easter My Friends!