“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined…
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore…”
The other night as I crawled into bed, I pulled out my phone to set the alarm for the morning. I accidentally hit the flashlight button. “Woah, that’s bright,” I thought, as that little light lit up the dark room. It’s kind of amazing, if you think about the tiny amount of space one light takes up compared to the space of an entire room, how it can illuminate that space from corner to corner.
The next morning as I drove to the coffee shop before the sun came up to meet my faithful prayer partners, I noticed the streetlights and how lovely the snow looks in their light on a wintry morning.
“And yet, they are artificial.” That was the next thought that came to my mind, unexpectedly. Now, I have an undying love for pretty little lights, and I could hardly say a thing against these beauties that bring my soul such delight. But that intrusive thought got me thinking about light: artificial vs. true.
I don’t have anything profound to say about it, really. But the image of a power outage keeps coming to mind this week, as well as thoughts about genuine light. The Bible calls Jesus “The Light of the world.” And it says that we are lights for Him, too, shining in the darkness. Shining stars. Burning flames.
My 2 year old son recently surprised me with the knowledge that he can recite both Bible verses that hang on the wall in his room, both having to do with light. Now every night I hear him eagerly say, “Praise Him, sun and moon! Praise Him all you shining stars! Psalm 148:3.” and “Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright. For the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Psalm 112:4.” And it reminds me that the genuine sources of light God created in nature are shining brightly, declaring his praise in the darkness, and that that is even more magnificent than our glitzy, manufactured light sources. And even more real than the sun and moon is His light that can shine within his people, when we allow it to. Not so visible with the eyes, but the truest of true light, with the potential to light up the darkest corners of this world.
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5
In my Bible study guide this week, I read a verse that I never remember having read before, from Matthew 13. Do you know what it says is the destiny of the people of God? “They will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” For a girl who loves lights and longs to shine brightly for God, there was perhaps no greater promise I could encounter. And the shining of this light will no longer be bittersweet, tainted with the knowledge that there is darkness to be lit, because there won’t be. All shall be well.
“Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice…The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night;but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, or your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever. They are the shoot that I planted, the work of my hands, so that I might be glorified… I am the Lord; in its time I will accomplish it quickly.”
I recently heard it said that the only way for a light not to shine is if it is deliberately hidden. I hide my light sometimes. Yet it’s the ultimate denial, disconnect, with who I am (and doing that, we know, produces depression, anxiety, and all sorts of problems). I’m not saying I am anywhere near of perfect, that I’m at all deserving of the title of “light”. Rather, that is simply what He made us to be, just as the sun and the stars must shine as they were created to. To be happy, to be me, I must let His light shine out of me. And in order to do that, I must let it in. My prayer this week is that I will let His light in rather than resisting his whispers to me or getting caught up in distraction by the artificial lights that look alluring but turn out to be ugliness or illusion.
“Again 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
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16