We had a lovely family break last week as twenty four of us gathered at Isle Tower in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It was especially poignant as my eldest brother Daniel and his family are soon to move to Beijing for twelve months, so it was great to spend time with them, to hear about their plans, to share their excitement and concerns, and to pray with them before they left.
One evening after a supper of freshly caught salmon we were settling down to coffee in the living room when a bat flew in! For a few minutes the bat was the centre of attention as it circled the room quite a number of times, swopping round and round. We’re not sure what kind of bat it was; there are a number of species that live in and around Isle Tower, but we could see it was a reasonable size and very black. One of us got up and opened the door. But that didn’t seem to help. So they switched down the lights, seeing if that would entice it out. Interestingly that had the opposite effect of what was intended, making the bat swoop lower and lower very close to our heads, causing some of the ladies present to instinctively grab the arm of the person next to them!
So how did it leave? Given that switching down the lights was unproductive, the lights were then switched up – with all the lights on. That did the trick, as a few seconds later, the bat flew passed the open door, sensed the darkness and turned and flew out into the night.
To be honest bats don’t really trouble me. I don’t get scared when I see one. But I can see why some do, and I can understand why in the past they’ve been linked to evil. After all, they are dark and lurk in shady places, loving the shadows and hating the light. It seems to me that the way to get rid of bats is the way to deal with evil. What you don’t do with evil is make your environment darker. Instead make it lighter. That exposes evil, causing it to flee into the night.
It’s not for nothing that Jesus described himself as ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12). When evil came into contact with him it got troubled and had to flee. And the same is true today. That’s why it’s good to welcome the presence of Jesus into our lives, homes, streets, workplaces, schools, universities and public spaces. His light is good and brings love, joy and peace. For those who revel in what the bible calls ‘deeds of darkness’ (Ephesians 5:11; Romans 13:12) – basically selfish things – the presence of light will be unsettling. They’ll kick up a fuss. This should be expected. And resisted.
Bats have reminded me that the answer to evil is not to switch the light down, but to switch it up. Simple really.
I am absolutely terrified of bats Matthew, but I will see them in a very different “light” now, although I am not sure I won’t still scream hysterically if I see one. Thank you for this lovely message. God Bless
Ann Watson used to have a saying “The creatures of the night are attracted to the light”, meaning that the holier the person or place and the brighter their light shines, the more hassle, flack and spiritual/physical conflict they have to face. The Holy Land itself is a prime example. Also think of any Christian saint or hero,any one at all, and if you read their life story you will find lots of pain and conflict; many Christian heroes have ended up being tortured and even dying for their beliefs. And yet, through all the grief as we walk through the dark valley of tears we are reassured that ultimately God is in charge, and in the meantime we keep wearing the armour knowing that every prayer we pray kicks the darkness a little bit until it bleeds daylight. (with respect to Bruce Cockburn)