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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"A View from Alcatraz"

January 11, 2004

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The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1

As part of the prison tour of Alcatraz, the former island prison in the San Francisco Bay, visitors are invited to step into the solitary confinement vault and have the door briefly closed. The result is total darkness and isolation. What would it be like to spend days or weeks alone in that darkness?

The psalmist knows the darkness of sin and rebellion, and the darkness of hiding in a cave from dangerous pursuers. But rather than succumb to paralyzing fear, he boldly proclaims, “The LORD is my light and my salvation.” He remembers the Creator God who spoke the word that first brought light. He believes that God will ultimately shine in the world’s darkness with the light of the Messiah.

From a human standpoint we have much to fear – the darkness of terrorism, violent crime, nuclear war, and perplexing personal problems. At times the darkness closes in on us.

But then the reassuring words of the psalmist flood our consciousness. We remember that the God who caused the light to shine out of darkness has shined in our hearts with the light of His Son Jesus Christ. In the darkness of Good Friday, when it seemed that evil had triumphed, the Son of God died to pay for our sins so that the light of salvation would continue to shine in an Easter world. Jesus, our Light, can penetrate every corner of darkness in our life, exposing and forgiving our sin, restoring hope and joy. Rekindled by the light of God’s Word, we go forth to shine as lights in a dark world.

After that brief stay in solitary darkness, the Alcatraz door swings open and visitors walk out into the dingy prison light and then out into a sunswept view of the bay. Similarly, the Lord has not left us in darkness.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, lead me to your eternal light! Amen.

(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit

Today's Bible Readings: Job 5-7    Matthew 8:18-34

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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