The magic of Christmas is calling my name – everything from the cookies to the parties to the Christmas lights, especially the lights. Honestly, things have been feeling pretty dark around here lately. Days are getting shorter and the dark is growing. Stuff in the church is heavy, marriage is hard, parenting is tough. Friendships take work, laundry piles are large.
My heart craves light, but my body wants to duck back under my blanket, back into darkness. Ah, darkness – it won’t judge my smudged leftover eyeliner or the pile of dishes in my sink. Don’t make me worry about that just yet. Let me stay comfortable in my darkness awhile longer. The light demands too much of me! We think, “If I welcome the light, I might have to look at the ugly parts of me and at the ugly parts of the world around me. Light exposes things – I’m not sure I can handle that right now.” It feels easier to stay in the dark where ugliness blends in with the shadows and doesn’t seem so bad.
But the ugly parts don’t go away simply because we can’t see them. They are in us and around us and affecting us. We think we can manage life all right in the dark, but the truth is we NEED the light!
Jesus knew this when he came in the midst of darkness. He made his earthly arrival in the dead of night! Imagine the shepherds in the fields on the night of Jesus’ birth. There in the darkness, they were watching over their sheep when the sky lit up with the glory of God! These tough shepherds who could fend off a mountain lion with a rod were terrified by this light that showed up in the middle of their darkness. (Luke 2:9) Once they realized this light brought good news of a Savior, they were excited and went straight to action. A thrill of hope! They had to see this Messiah child, the true light. (John 1:9)
And as the Magi followed a star for months in search of the newborn King, we can learn to rely on Jesus’ light to guide us each day, even in our dark times. His light is a call to action for us, too, friends. We are innately wired to act in the presence of light – our bodies wake up when the sun rises, and our hearts wake up to the news of the Risen Son. The light may hurt at first. It may feel uncomfortable or scary, as it did for the shepherds. It may take a few blinks before our eyes adjust to him, but when we fix our eyes on Jesus, he has promised us the light of life! (John 8:12) He is the lens through which we see everything else clearly.
In John 12:46, Jesus told listeners:
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
Looking at the world through the lens of Jesus’ light means we have work to do. There is a world in darkness; neighbors and friends and strangers desperate to see this light – his light – in us. And for good reason! We are made to reflect his light, and those who see us shining will glorify God. (Matthew 5:16) Yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! So shake off the feelings of defeat and inadequacy, and set your sights on his light.
Leah Sellers is the Community Editor for Part&Parcel, a quarterly magazine that equips women to gather around the table, feast on delicious meals and conversation, and share Jesus with neighbors and friends.
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