The following is a true story from the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, an illustration by Frank Koch. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on manoeuvres in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities. Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.” “Is it steady or moving astern?” the captain called out. The lookout replied, “Steady, Captain,” which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship. The captain then called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: ‘We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.’” Back came the signal, “Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees.” The captain said, “Send: ‘I’m a captain, change course twenty degrees.’” “I’m a seaman second-class,” came the reply. “You had better change course twenty degrees.” By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send: ‘I’m a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.’” Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse, you alter your course twenty degrees.” According to these proceedings the man said, we altered our course.

God is the light of the world. Sometimes, we find ourselves on a collision course and God advises us to alter our course because God is not going to alter His. No matter how sure we are about our journey, God is always right and God always has our best interest in mind. There are times, we do not see the dangers ahead of us, but God is the light that constantly leads us and guides us in the right path, even when we tend to go astray.

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV). The purpose of light is to dispel darkness, to see things clearly as they are. When we follow Jesus, we have the assurance that we will not walk in evil, but we will have the light or life within us and be torchbearers for Christ.

How would you know if you are walking in light or in darkness? Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them (1 John 2:9-11 NIV).

If you hate anyone, you are walking in darkness. For hatred is darkness and God is light and love. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him (1 John 3: 14 -15 NIV).

You will surely be offended by others; you will have your reasons to hate someone. However, it is not what others do to you that makes you evil. It is what you do wrong, that makes you evil. If someone slaps you and you slap them back, you are equally wrong. Sure, they slapped you first, but you did the same thing anyway.

How do you walk in the light when someone does you wrong? Forgive them and set them free. Don’t hold any bitterness and hatred towards them, overcome evil with good. Set your mind up to forgive people all the time, because no one can hurt you as much as you can hurt yourself. Unforgivingness and bitterness are your worst enemy. Do not embrace the darkness, but walk in the light by loving people, be kind, merciful and gracious.

Forgiveness does not mean you allow people to hurt you, it only means you are not seeking revenge but setting the offender free. You are pardoning their offence and allowing the light of God shine through you. Forgiveness not only sets the other person free from their offence, it sets you free from the injury as well. When you walk in bitterness and hatred, you are walking in a collision course with God. You are walking in darkness and heading into trouble, because it is God’s will that you walk in mercy and forgiveness. People that easily forgive are those that easily heal too. Forgiveness is victory in the midst of pain. Forgiveness is love and light, the very nature of God in you.