Red Booth Notes: The Place of Light and Hope
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, it’s said the darkness that once fell on the land of Egypt was “thick enough to be felt.” This vivid image, and phrase, comes to us from the time of Moses—a time that might seem long ago and far away—even mythical.
But for many today, darkness of another kind is all too pervasive. Some, by choice, are without God in the world, and are like the lost folk in Bruegel’s famous painting of the blind leading the blind. Ruin threatens because they renounce, or reject the way home. They are in darkness.
Belief lies at the heart of such a dilemma, and this was something the nineteenth century preacher D.L. Moody understood well. “The world is in darkness,” he wrote, “and the gospel offers light. Because man will not believe the gospel that Christ is the light of the world, the world is dark to-day. But the moment a man believes, the light from Calvary crosses his path and he walks in an unclouded sun.”
Belief and light were matters of eternal moment for C.S. Lewis too. And one phrase from his writings is remarkably similar to Moody’s words above. “I believe in Christianity,” Lewis wrote, “as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Moody and Lewis were, to all appearances, very different men. One had just four years of formal education—the other was an Oxford don. One was reared amid poverty in rural New England, the other raised as a gentleman’s son in Ireland and England. One published books largely because he had the assistance of stenographers who recorded his sermons and talks, the other was seldom without a pen in his hand—crafting classic works in an astonishing array of genres: autobiography, essays, scholarly studies, works of fantasy, letters and poetry.
Yet in one way, these men could not have been more alike. They gave us descriptions of light that richly compliment one another.
To return to Moody’s writings, I can imagine Lewis would have ardently approved Moody’s invocation of light as a metaphor in the following lines: “Truth never grows old; truth is as young today as it has ever been. Talk of the old truths wearing out! Don’t you enjoy the rays of the same sun which has been shining these thousands of years?”
And, moving on from this, I don’t know that I’ve ever found a more graceful, or more illuminating definition of the word “revival” than one Moody once wrote. As he phrased it, revival “simply means a recalling from obscurity—a finding some hidden treasure, and bringing it back to the light.”
I find it moving too that Moody and Lewis were kindred spirits in their reflections on the reasons for hope. Moody wrote: “You ask me what my hope is; it is that Christ died for my sins, in my stead, in my place, and therefore I can enter into life eternal.”
Lewis pointed his readers to the cross in beautiful prose, saying: “The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start.” He then completed this thought: “We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.”
The place of light and hope. It was a realm two very different men knew well. Bless God for all that they told us about it.
An award-winning writer and literary historian, Kevin Belmonte is the author of Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton (Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins, 2011).
 See page 33 of Twelve Select Sermons, by D.L. Moody, (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, 1881).
 See page 140 of The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis, (New York: HarperCollins, 2001).
 D.L. Moody, as quoted on page 555 of Echoes from the Pulpit, (Hartford: A.D. Worthington & Co., 1900).
 See page 8 of To the Work, by D.L. Moody, (Chicago: F.H. Revell, 1884).
 See page 28 of Twelve Select Sermons, by D.L. Moody, (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, 1881).
 See page 54 of Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, (New York: HarperOne, 2001).
 See page 55 of Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, (New York: HarperOne, 2001).