The Gift of Light

Are we taking full advantage of it?

Darryl Thompson
The Gift of Light
Photo by Marcus Dall Col on Unsplash

In 1977 my sister came home from what was then Avondale College for one long weekend with two Californian friends in tow. We lived on Australia’s most easterly point, Wategos Beach, Byron Bay. Our home offered panoramic views of the bay, coastal plains, and distant peaks of the Border and Nightcap ranges. Towering 27.5 miles distant was Mount Wollumbin, as originally named by the indigenous Bundjalung Nation. Its granite peak resembled a sleeping humpback. In 1770 English explorer James Cook named it Mount Warning.

Our new friends, captivated by the mountain, asked if they could climb it. “Sure!” exclaimed Dad, always up for an adventure. So the seven of us embarked on a scenic Sabbath afternoon drive to Wollumbin National Park. Arriving at the trailhead, we grabbed several trail guides before heading up the 5.5-mile winding path.

Initially we meandered through the rainforest’s Bangalow palms and Moreton Bay fig trees. Soon the trail turned challenging, with hundreds of steep steps, dozens of switchbacks, and several dangerous cliffs. After seemingly endless climbing, we finally exited the dense rainforest onto the mountain’s humpbacked ridgeline. Mount Warning’s final stage is a near-vertical ascent to its 3,800-foot summit.

We crested the mountaintop just in time to experience the setting Sabbath sun, casting long rays of light across the terrain below. After gazing at the view, Dad encouraged us to leave, but our American friends tarried, captivated by the magnificent views encircling the ancient volcano’s caldera. We closed Sabbath as the last rays of sunlight disappeared over the horizon, praying for a safe descent.

Perils in the Dark

Energized, we slid down the steep, slippery trail, reaching the gravel path as darkness descended. Hastily we walked along the narrow pathway, but we managed to traverse only two of the trails’ switchbacks before being enveloped by nightfall. The moonless night only emphasized our predicament. As we stumbled along in the disorienting darkness, our minds began swirling with stories of hikers lost for days, sometimes forever, on the mountain.

Suddenly I heard Dad’s scream and distant cry for help. He had fallen 10 feet down an embankment, hitting a tree that halted his plunge into oblivion. After we assisted him to safety, prayers of thanks to God arose. My father now used a walking stick to gingerly tap his way along the path. Slowly our group inched down the mountainside, keeping one foot firmly pressed against its edge. What had been a joy two hours earlier was now a complete nightmare; we regretted not obeying Mount Warning’s posted trail walking hours.

We had left home without a flashlight. Being unprepared for nighttime darkness, we stumbled through the Bangalow palm forest. Here we encountered two lost hikers. Joining efforts, we carefully tore our park maps into thin paper strips and used their lighter to burn them. The flickering flame created enough light to guide our path until we reached the dense rainforest near the mountain’s base. Here, regrettably, our paper supply ran out. Struggling on, we soon became hopelessly lost. With nowhere to turn but prayer, we asked God for help.

Literally, after only a moment, 200 yards up the mountainside, a bright beam of light flashed. Hearing lots of happy voices, we knew our prayers had been answered! The Murwillumbah Pathfinder Club appeared and guided us to the parking lot! They were on their way up the mountain to camp and watch the sunrise. Four long harrowing hours later our hike down Mount Warning was over. We praised God for His goodness and mercy by sending an Adventist Pathfinder Club to our rescue!

Pressing Forward

Recounting this story reminds me of a memorable Friday evening worship. My dad read about Ellen Harmon’s first prophetic vision. Surrounded by light, Ellen rose high above the earth, where she witnessed the Advent people traversing the narrow way to heaven. A bright light shone behind them, preventing them from stumbling off the path. If they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was leading them to the Holy City, they were kept safe. But some grew weary, complaining that the city was too far off. They had expected to enter it already. Jesus encouraged them, raising His gloriously bright right arm, lighting the way for the band of Advent travelers. Some foolishly denied this light, however, exclaiming that God was not leading them. For those cynics, the light went out. Blinded by darkness, they stumbled into the abyss below. Sadly, losing their sight of Jesus, they became forever lost to a sinful world.1

In my mind both stories emphasize our need for readiness. My parents exemplified this preparedness. They spent time daily in prayer, studying God’s Word, and reading from the Spirit of Prophecy. At a young age I learned the privilege of prayer and family worship. I personally experienced God’s Word as “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). Remember, “we should be preparing life and character to meet the demands of the times that are upon us.”2 As God’s faithful people, we must always be ready for Jesus to come.

As Adventists, do we still believe in the second part of our name? We believe in the Sabbath, but are we living as though Jesus’ coming is imminent? We profess to be Bible-believing Christians, but are we daily studying God’s Word? Are we regularly reading from the Spirit of Prophecy? Or have we fallen into the abyss of our own Laodicean slumber, lost in the allurements of a sinful world?

We must wake up! We cannot fall into darkness if we make Christ our guide. Jesus says, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, NIV). This is why, “when the way seems beset with difficulty, and clouded with darkness, we must believe that there is light ahead, and not turn to the right or left, but press forward, notwithstanding all our trials and temptations.”3

God has blessed His church with the gift of prophecy. Ellen White’s writings consistently point to God’s Word as the true source of light. Her books emphasize the importance of obeying Scripture and preparing ourselves and others for Christ’s second coming.4 No one will stumble and fall if they heed the clear warnings—as we should have before climbing Mount Warning. The time to prepare is now! Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Heaven cannot come soon enough! Are you ready?

1 Adapted from Ellen G. White, “My First Vision,” Early Writings (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1882, 1945), pp. 13, 14.

2 Ellen G. White manuscript 99, 1908, in Ellen G. White, Letters and Manuscripts (Silver Spring, Md.: Ellen G. White Estate, 1908), vol. 23, p. 256, retrieved from https://egwwritings.org/book/b14073.

3 Ellen G. White, “Resisting Temptation,” Review and Herald, May 19, 1891. 4 Alberto R. Timm and Dwain N. Esmond, eds., The Gift of Prophecy in Scripture and History (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2015), retrieved from https://egwwritings.org/book/b13965.

Darryl Thompson