One dark, stormy afternoon in Mustang, Oklahoma, when our son was almost two, we heard the town’s sirens fill our house indicating there was a tornado coming. It was already raining and the wind was strong when we made our way outside, headed for the storm cellar.
In Oklahoma, houses rarely have basements but some have storm shelters — or what I grew up calling cellars. These were usually out in the backyard. They were literally a hole in the ground with poured cement walls, room for about 6 people, complete with a big heavy door that shut securely overhead. ( I’m sure some people have roomy, lovely, well-appointed fashionable cellars these days, but this was my experience). I opened that big door and looked into that cellar when we moved in. I remember thinking, it would have to be a Wizard of Oz sized tornado to get me down into that old dank cellar. It had about a foot of brown murky water standing in the bottom, with 6 old rusty, metal, church folding-chairs opened, obviously for standing on. It was a thing terror movies were made of. I wasn’t sure what was living under that water and I didn’t want to ever find out.
As I heard the sirens continue to blast and saw the sky turn green, I realized I couldn’t wait any longer. I was going to have to take my baby boy and go into that dark cellar alone. If only Bill were home he would know what to do … but he wasn’t, and I didn’t have time to call him to tell him where we were. I scooped up Lance along with his pacifier — because without it there were two storms a comin’ — then headed out into the storm that was already raging. Praise God some neighbors ran over and asked if they could go into the cellar with us. I answered with deep gratitude, “yes … please.”
So, we started our decent into the abyss one-by-one, helping each other go from standing on the stairs to standing on an old wobbly folding chair. There was one for each of us. I was thankful to share our cellar, but even more thankful only 5 other people needed help. I imagine I would have let anyone in on the condition that they were the ones to stand in the water! I was the last one in, holding Lance with one arm, who was sucking that paci with every fiber of his being, then reaching up with the other arm to shut the cellar door. Once that door shut it was literally pitch black. I didn’t expect it to be quite that dark. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, and we were all terrified! A timid teenage girl asked me if by chance I might have thought to bring a flashlight down. She couldn’t see my remorse as I hung my head low when I answered her, “I did not.” I was glad no one could see my tears. All I could think about was my baby and how traumatic this was, especially for him. I kept telling him it was going to be ok while singing into his ear. I told him daddy would find us and everything was going to be ok. I kept saying, “don’t be afraid because I’ve got you, just close your eyes and hold on tight to my neck. I’ve got you.” I prayed my words would be true.
We could hear the storm above us passing by like a freakish monster pounding his fists on that old tin door while wreaking havoc on our house and backyard. Bone chilling, banging, freight train roars were all we could hear. I don’t know how long we were down there — it seemed like hours but it wasn’t. It suddenly stopped and all we could hear was dead silence. How did we know if it was safe to come out? I had never done this before. No one spoke. It was just so dark down there…
Then, without warning, that big cellar door flings wide open as light literally poured into that tiny hole in the red Oklahoma earth. In one single moment the darkness is gone. I see the strong arm of my husband, Bill, reaching down to rescue us. I hear his familiar voice calling our names. Lance launched straight into his father’s arms, and I wasn’t far behind. His daddy lifted him out of that darkness and into his safe embrace up high into the light. It was so gloriously bright. We all squinted as our eyes adjusted to the light after being in the dark so long. He literally pulled us out of the darkness and into his marvelous light.
Bill is preaching through the book of John, now. We just finished chapter 9 where Jesus heals the man blind from birth. We see the religious leaders getting more and more furious with Jesus as we move through the chapters of John. At the end of chapter 8 Jesus had spoken taking them all the way back to Abraham- saying, “I am that I am,” a term reserved only for God. They were ready to stone Him to death but he disappeared. At the start of chapter 9 Jesus follows that with another bold statement, “I am the light of the world.” As you read through the miracles that Jesus performs you might notice he doesn’t do it the same way.
For this precious man, Jesus reached down into the dust beside his dirty feet, the same dust this man walked over and sat in every day of his life as he begged for food. This familiar dust would be what Jesus would choose to use with the saliva from his own mouth to give this blind man his sight. In the beginning, Jesus created man from the dust of the earth. From the dust of this man’s life, Jesus gave him sight. This poor man who had never seen anything but darkness every single day of his life came back from the pool and not only could he see but he saw the Light of the World standing before him.
As you might imagine, people began to ask him what had happened. It was big news! Skeptically, they asked how could this be so? They seemed to be more concerned with the “how” than the miracle itself. They couldn’t believe it was true but how could they deny it? They didn’t rejoice with him but instead they took him to the religious leaders and they interrogated him over and over. Finally the healed man had enough and said, “Listen guys, I don’t know how to answer all these questions you’re throwing at me. All I know is once I was blind but now I see.” That was all he knew at that point. Sometimes that’s all I can come up with too. “I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know exactly why bad things happen to good people and other such massive questions. All I know is once I was blind but now I see.” I cling to that truth when it gets so dark I can only see shadows. I know the light will come again.
The Pharisees finally threw the guy out. Jesus heard what happened and found him. Jesus sought the man out. He asked him, “do you believe in the Son of Man?” The healed man answered, “Who is he? Tell me who he is and I will believe!” Jesus said, “It is the one speaking to you now.” The man who could see both physically and now spiritually said, “I believe!” and he worshipped Him. It was that simple! So simple a child could understand. So, Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man, but the ones who thought they could see were totally blind to see who was standing before them — the Son of Man, Jesus, their Messiah, the one they were waiting for. Yet they missed it because they were blind to the truth. How ironic.
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” –Psalm 40:2
Jesus’ strong arm reached down and pulled us out of the darkness and into the light. He is the hero of our story, the quiet, strong and mighty hero to a people who are broken and suffering. He is our hero as we walk this life seeing clearly our victory through Him. He is the answer to every question and the solution to every problem. He is the one who opens the heavy door and reaches in to pull us out of the murky dark cellar. He is the Light of the World.
I once was…
Blind, but now I see
Lost, but now I’m found
Deaf, but now I hear
Homeless, but now I have a home
Broken, but now I’m whole
Alone, but now I’m in a family
Sick, but now I’m well
Rejected, but now I’m accepted
Poor, but now I’m rich
Hopeless, but now I have the great hope
Dead, but now I’m alive
Unloved, but now I am loved
Unforgiven, but now I’m forgiven
Afraid, but now I’m at peace
Dirty, but now I’m clean
In darkness, but now I’m in the light…..