He was not that Light, but he came to testify about the Light. (John 1:8)
I've been reading an allegorical recreation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The River and the Road, where Dietrich encourages and exhorts an Ernest before he embarks on a dark journey. What was that journey, and why did he have to go through it? Why did God send Ernest through that journey of darkness and dampness?
I know, Ernest is a fictional character, but Dietrich was not. Sometimes I wonder what motivated such a man to go back to Nazi Germany to keep preaching when he could have stayed in England, or to write on every scrap of paper his thoughts only to be scrapped himself in a concentration camp moments before the war's end.
I do not claim to know God's purpose or reasoning, but Dietrich knew in himself something that I only hope to know, saw something so clearly that I must strain to see. He saw the Light peering through the tunnel, he saw past the dark journey and into the hidden hope beyond. And he saw this Light precisely because he knew that he is not the Light, but that there is another Light that came to fetch him, and now through him to fetch all those around him to that Light. In his writings and his testimony we see the embers of that Light still glowing strong, still burning bright.