Pilgrim Notes

Reflections along the way.

Behold Your Salvation is Near


For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11–12)

On some nights, the fog of fear and doubt bewitch the mind and torment the heart. We can be trapped in a moment of anguish that feels like ages. For some people, this moment extends to days, weeks, even years. In C.S. Lewis’s novel, The Silver Chair, the prince has been bewitched by the dark Queen of the Underland. He forgets who he is and becomes her slave. When the children try to rescue him, the Queen tries to seduce them and soon they are ready to doubt the sun, the world above, and the hope beyond them. They are falling under her spell.

The constant bombardment of dark news and sad stories can quickly convince us that darkness is rising and the light is fading. In the struggles of our world and our own lives, we may sometimes feel like the Psalmist who cries out,

Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? Psalm 88:12.

The Psalmist feels abandoned in a dark and lonely place like the place of the dead. He feels forgotten and is forgetting the goodness of God. The memory of God’s saving hand gives us hope for the future, for the coming of His grace again. Stripped of those memories, we lose hope. We despair.

Eugen Rosenstock Huessy once said that if three generations fail to experience peace, the memory of peace will fade from a culture. Without that memory, there is no hope for the possibility of a future time of peace. Forgetting the light of days gone by robs us of the hope of future possibility.

We live in an age forgetting. A certain hopelessness darkens our vision, poisons our conversations, steals our joy. In this place, it is easy to reduce life to a mere struggle for power, to live only for momentary pleasure, or to withdraw into a tomb of numbness. Words like hope and kindness and love are swallowed by words like power and strife and anger.

As the people of God, we are called to remember and rehearse the creating and redeeming acts of our Lord. The church year is one way of remembering, of living into the stories of God’s people across the ages. During Advent, we remember the people in darkness who have seen a great light. We remember the longing and watching and waiting of God’s people for the coming Messiah, even as we join into this longing and watching and waiting for His return.

In this pause of remembering, we are learning afresh how to see and hear and behold signs of His grace and love all around us. The people of God can walk into the darkness of the age and behold the unfailing Light of Christ. When Paul writes to the church in Rome, he is writing a people in darkness. They have seen the immorality, power struggles and crushing evil of their culture firsthand. They’ve even experienced division and struggle within the church. He writes these struggling saints and exhorts them not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good. Though darkness may surround them, the light of God cannot be quenched. He writes,

For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11–12)

We join our brothers and sisters from across the ages and rejoice that salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. We acknowledge the physical and spiritual darkness surrounding us, but we also look expectantly for the light of God’s love and grace breaking into our midst. Flashes of His saving work are all around us. We pray for eyes to behold His coming, His light, His love that surrounds us even now.

In the midst of the pain and loss and anger that may surround us, we walk as people of the light. We shine out with His hope and grace. We heed Paul’s exhortation,

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 12:8)

Like the saints in ancient Rome, we shine out in a dark and contentious world with the love and hope of Jesus Christ.

1 Comment

  1. I’m not sure I know of a non-isolated culture that has not known war for three generations. Even when nations are “peaceful” for a time, couples, siblings, friends, neighbors, co-workers, leaders are strife-stricken. And, yet, God has given us an idea of peace that we can imagine, a memory of a peace passed down in, perhaps, our DNA, since Eden.
    And our Lord embodies peace — models it, lives it, exudes it. I welcome Him this Christmas season.
    Thank you for the beautiful post, Doug.

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