Lenten Devotional, March 7 - by Matt Herbert

 Pastor John Christopherson

“I AM the Light of the world” – John 8:12

Ten years ago, I boarded a plane to Nicaragua with members of First Lutheran Church. I had never traveled outside of the United States before, and I was filled with anxiety of leaving home and visiting a developing country that I only knew from books and the internet. I returned a week later with a new outlook on life and a new understanding of my faith and the world.

Travel is now very much a part of my life. I work for an international organization that has sent me to four different continents. The job is not glamorous, but the work has allowed me to continue seeing the world and God’s beautiful creations.

I consider the travel a great privilege, but much of it is work, and I often become consumed with my professional obligations. In these moments, I wander off the path of faith and my awareness and relationship with God fades.

Last summer, I traveled to the northern coast of Colombia for a professional conference hosted by the organization I work for. The period leading up to the conference had been trying for me professionally, and I was nervous about traveling to a country that had been scarred by violence and instability not long ago. Anxiety over the uncertainty and outcomes clouded my head in darkness. I had wandered off the path.

In the weeks preceding the conference and my travels to Colombia, in the midst of personal turmoil, a ray of light broke through the cloud of darkness. I found out former First Lutheran Church pastor Natanael ‘Nate’ Lizarazo and I would be in the same Colombian city at the same time. I grew up listening to Nate tell stories of his life in Colombia and how his faith led him out of difficult circumstances and to work serving others.

I reunited with Nate in Colombia and we reminisced about our good times traveling together with the church. We discussed our current lives and how God has shaped our life journeys. The day was refreshing and came at a moment in need. The anxiety and doubt disappeared. I was reset on my path.

I AM the light of the world. The declaration of I AM is so profound and encompassing. There are instances in which the light is easy to see and nourishes your faith. At other times, the light is not obvious, but it is there and you see it in unexpected moments. Sometimes you haven’t asked for the light, but when it shines upon you, you are reminded of the goodness it brings, sometimes at just the right time.

In my own time of darkness, when I had wandered so far off my path, the light appeared and I was reminded of the gift of Jesus through a man who taught me so much about faith and the goodness of God.