When I was first starting in ministry, I lived in a house that was within walking distance from the church. At one point during my time serving there, the congregation tackled a pretty massive construction project. For a time, as we added on additional space, the main door to the church was unable to be used.
During that phase of construction, I had two choices when I was leaving the church to head home. I could exit through the back door and walk around the large building, or I could walk through the sanctuary and exit a side door that was much closer to my home. The problem with the second option was that I often left the church after dark. In the sanctuary, the light switches were at the back of the room, and the side exit was the front. So, leaving through the sanctuary would mean walking in the darkness and hunting for the door.
I decided to take my chances fumbling through the dark sanctuary. I figured that after a couple of attempts, I would learn the nuances of the journey, and before too long, the few steps in darkness would cause me no worry at all. So that first evening, I stood at the back of the room, took a deep breath, and shut off the light. Then the strangest thing happened.
There was a street light outside the sanctuary whose glow seeped through the stained-glass windows just enough that it bounced off the brass cross that sat on the altar table. If I walked straight towards that cross, took a hard right to the side door, I was outside and free. Night after night, I walked towards the glow of that cross, and it showed me the way out and home.
When the Israelites left Egypt, the book of Exodus tells us that by night the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of fire so they could travel. In John 8, Jesus tells us that He is the Light, and those who follow Him will not walk in darkness. We follow Him by knowing and aligning our hearts with Him. When we do these things, His light will provide direction for the way out of dark places and will eventually lead us home.