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{}   *In Love With the Darkness* 


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In Love With the Darkness

by Steven James

Based on John 3:1-21

I can hear crickets jabbering in the shadows among the trees. Nearby in a clearing a campfire flickers. Jesus and his buddies are talking around the fire. I see them seated there in the dance of darkness and light. Someone laughs. Someone in the shadows coughs.

I've chosen to come at night when no one else can see me. No one else will even know I was here.

But I had to come. I had to meet him for myself. You see, I've heard him speak. I've seen his miracles. He's different. I know that much. There's something mysterious about him, yet something familiar, too--something that's both comforting and deeply unsettling.

I step on a twig, and it snaps underfoot. They all look up, silent now. I emerge from the shadows, and I'm sure they recognize by my clothes that I'm someone important, a teacher of the Jews. A couple of them smile and nod, obviously impressed that I would show up here to talk with their friend.

But before any of them can say a word, I clear my throat and address Jesus. "Rabbi," I say, bowing out of respect. "We know you are a teacher sent from God, for no one could possibly do the wonders you do unless God were with him."

I pause and wait for him to acknowledge the compliment.

But he doesn't say anything. He just studies my face. I can see the flicker of shadow and light on his features as the campfire leaps and twists a few feet away.

I expect him to say something like, "Gee, thanks. I appreciate that. So kind of you to mention it. Just trying to be faithful there. Just using the gifts and talents God has given me." But he doesn't, and that surprises me.

Instead he grunts, "So you think God's kingdom is proven by outward signs? Well, no one can even see God's kingdom unless he's born again."

Born again? What?

I try to wrap my mind around his words. Is he trying to tell me I've never even seen God's kingdom? Does he know who he's talking to?!

Everyone knows Jesus likes to use shocking images in his teaching, images of thieves and seeds and pigs and pearls, but . . . being born again? What's that supposed to mean?

My gaze drifts from Jesus to his disciples and then back to him. Finally, I say, "But how can that be, Jesus? How can someone be born again? You can't reenter the womb!" My words are alive with logic. I'm chuckling a little, but he isn't. Crickets chirp in the background.

"No one can enter God's kingdom unless he's born of water and the Spirit," answers Jesus, pushing a stick into the fire to reposition the coals. In the new light of the fire he must notice the bewildered look on my face because he motions for me to have a seat. I scrunch down on one of the logs they've pulled up beside the campfire. I see his wild features in the blazing light.

There's nothing tame about this man.

"We all know that humans have human babies. Well, God's Spirit produces spiritual babies." A cloud of sparks drifts skyward. "Your problem is that you think it's all explainable. But it's not supposed to be reasonable. The process is as mysterious as the wind. You can't even understand the direction of the wind--its origin or its destination. How can you expect to nail down spiritual birth? How are you gonna fit that into your neat little theological box?"

My heart is beating faster now. His words have an edge to them. He seems impatient with me, like he's talking to a child who hasn't been listening in school.

This guy doesn't beat around the bush, does he?

I watch the sparks rise into the darkness. They ride invisible currents of air, curling up into the night. Wind carries them along toward the stars?the wind of the fire, the breath of the flames. I watch them dance upward into the darkness and then disappear into the unknown. I'm trying to understand all that he's telling me. I really am. But I can't seem to make sense of it.

Finally, I shake my head. "I'm . . . I'm sorry. I don't understand."

And then Jesus loses his cool. He rises and steps toward me, filling the space between me and the fire. "You teach others, don't you? You teach the word of God . . . yet you don't understand it yourself?!"

I blink, unsure what to say. He sighs and shakes his head.

Then he speaks of purpose--the purpose of his life, the purpose of our lives, and the importance of faith at the center of it all. Over and over, in half a dozen ways, he tells me my problem isn't in my head, but in my heart. It isn't facts I need, he says, but faith. Not proof, but belief.

And he speaks to me of fear--the fear of being revealed. He tells me most people hide and are afraid to come into the light for fear that their evil deeds will be exposed.

Light and darkness. . . secrets and revelation . . . truth and lies . . . faith and fear . . . all of his words sail through my head.

He's saying I'm in love with the darkness! The words sting me. That's what he's saying. That's what he means!

The other men are silent. And then the truth hits me like a fist in the gut.

He's right, Nicodemus, you are afraid of the truth, you are in love with the darkness . . . Why else would you have come at night?

I swallow hard. How does he know? How can he see so deeply into my soul? How can he know my heart so well when we've only just met?

"But," he says at last, "whoever lives by the truth, Nicodemus, comes into the light."

His words don't sound like doctrine at all--more like an invitation.

Then Jesus is done. The fire crackles. There's nothing more to say. I nod to him. He nods back.

I look at the men sitting there, listening to all of this, studying me. I wonder how many of them have believed . . . have been reborn . . . have seen the kingdom . . . have stepped into the light.

Then I leave the fire and walk into the shadows again. And I wonder if I'm going into the shadows, or through them? Into or through . . .

His words snap at my heels as I stumble back home through the raven-black night.

Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.

I notice stars flickering high above me like sparks from a thousand fires that finally found their way home through the night.

Am I walking into the night or through it to the other side?

"Through it," I say to myself. "I'm walking through it."

And I take a step forward.

Toward home.

Taken from "Never the Same: Stories of Those Who Encountered Jesus" by Steven James, copyright 2005, Youth Specialties/Zondervan. Used by permission. Order the book here:


Thought For The Day:

"Remember: The mightiest Oak was once a little nut that held its ground."

Verse for the Day:

"Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly."
--Job 8:7

Kid's Thought For The Day:

"Why buy roses when daisies are free."

Parent's Thought For The Day:

THOMAS EDISON'S MOTHER : "Of course I'm proud that you invented the
electric light bulb. Now turn it off and get to bed!"

Coach's Thought For The Day:

"It's not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game
even starts. -- Addison Walker

Writer's Thought For The Day:

"Sometimes lousy writing days are lousy writing days because you're still figuring something out, and you're not quite ready to let yourself know what it is. And sometimes they're just days when your head doesn't want to do the thing where anything worthwhile ever seems to make it out of your fingertips." --Neil Gaiman

Deep Thought For The Day:

"I'd send my dog to one of those new pet psychiatrists -- but he knows he's not allowed on the couch."


Inspired Audio -- Inspirational Audio Message of the Week!

Inspired Audio is a brand new offshoot of  Every week we will offer a different audio message that you can listen to right on your computer as you are surfing the net or just getting things done around the house.  Be sure to come back and visit each week!   

This Week: "Have You Used Your Super Powers Lately?" by Jerry Dean


Over 64,000 people have listened to popular Chicken Soup Author Michael T. Powers' free inspirational message entitled: "Breathing Life into Others".  If you aren't one of them just visit: and click on the link to listen to the free streaming audio message!


Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever!
Silverhill, AL

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