The Comfort and Discomfort of Light

It’s January 9, and I have no desire to put away my Christmas decorations or to take down my tree. However, my tree seems to have different ideas. The strands of lights on this 5-year-old, pre-lit beauty have been blowing one by one (beginning on Christmas Eve!) like a child blowing out birthday candles. I honestly think there’s only one working set left – the set I bought on the day I pieced it together in early December. It looks ridiculous.

Yet, every morning when I get up, and every afternoon as soon as the sun moves around the side of the building, I turn on my Christmas lights. From the side view, where I like to sit with my laptop, it doesn’t look so bad. It’s still festive and beautiful and fills me with joy. I love my tree, despite its failure to shine in the way it was intended. There are so many other features that add to its radiance – the sparkle, the color, the precious ornaments – I can forgive this rebellion to a point.

However, my tree needs to know that I will not allow it to stay this way forever. It clearly needs my assistance. Before I put it up next year, I will buy new lights, and I will restore it to its former glory. It will be fully whole again, lighting up the room with its tiny white orbs, causing the ornaments to sparkle, and masking some of the holes between the branches. I’m not sure I’ll love my tree more, but I will be happy when it properly displays my handiwork and actually looks like a pre-lit tree.

There’s just something about light, isn’t there? We gaze at the moon in its phases, especially when it’s full and round; the harvest moon being especially beautiful with its increased size and warm color. We look up on a clear night, distinguishing stars and satellites from landing planes and drawing out constellations. We stand in the cold to watch fireworks light up the sky on special occasions. And I just can’t get enough of the glorious sunrises I see through my condo floor-to-ceiling windows here on the twenty-first floor.

Yet, light can also be unkind. Think about the time you looked in a mirror where there was bright lighting. Did you like what you saw? Every unplucked eyebrow hair and clogged pore cry out to be noticed. No one should ever have to see their flaws that way. We definitely don’t want others to see them.

One morning this week after a few days of cloudy skies, the sun made a dazzling appearance, and I welcomed its bright warmth as it beamed through my windows. That is until I noticed what it did to my countertops! I thought my kitchen was clean. Under the brilliant spotlight of the sun’s glare (notice how it’s now a glare!), all of a sudden, the truth was revealed. There were small crumbs, dust – so much dust, and small hairs (ew!) all over my countertop! And it’s wiped down every evening after dinner when the dishes are done!

Yes, light can be mean. Yet, it’s not the light’s fault, now is it? The dirt was there all along. It just required a bright enough spotlight to reveal it. I then have two choices: I can run and get a cloth and clean up that mess; or I can ignore it and wait until the sun finds a more compassionate spot in the sky to shine in. Once its brilliance has passed on, no one will see that grime.

Daughters of God, both my tree and my countertop are great analogies for our lives; specifically, for our walk with Jesus.

The top of my tree had lights in that red part before Christmas Eve! Missing: one handsome son in Winnipeg.

Sometimes, like my tree, we allow things into our lives that make the lights go out. Our love for God doesn’t shine as brightly anymore. Since our Father is loving and full of grace, He still sees our inner beauty. He still loves us. But He desires that we perform as He intended, shining for the world to see our Jesus-glow, causing others to want what we have – a personal relationship with Him.

As an inanimate object, my tree can’t ask for my help. I will impose my power as its human owner, and I will take control. It’s getting new lights whether it wants them or not. But, while God wants us to shine for Him, He won’t impose on us in the same way. He has given us our own will. He wants us to ask Him for help. If we repent and ask for His forgiveness, He will restore us to the beautiful masterpiece we were created to be. We can shine in wholeness once again. IF we ask.

Our hearts, like my countertop, have hidden dirt in them. When we come close to God, all those crumbs and dust particles are revealed in His brilliance. 1 John 1:5 says “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” When we stand next to Him, it’s hard to present that photoshopped, filtered image we’d rather display.

Well, Val, I’m a good person. What dirt would that bright light uncover? How do you respond when you get angry? How do you react to fear? Is there hidden unforgiveness toward someone who did you wrong? Oh, there’s dark spots on all our hearts, sisters. The only perfect One to ever walk this earth was Jesus. Let’s not claim equal status with Him.

What would God’s brilliance reveal in your life? Don’t let guilt move in to sit beside it. Repent. Pray with me.

Dear Father, You see the dark places inside of me that no one else can see. You are the only One who can clean up my life and get rid of the dirt which blemishes Your creation. Forgive me for the things I’ve done that make my lights go out. I want to shine for You. Cleanse my heart and make me whole again. Make me worthy to stand in your spotlight and radiate your light. I love you. Amen.

David prayed a similar prayer in Psalm 139:23. I like the way The Passion Translation (TPT) words it:

God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through. Find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.

Sometimes light brings me shame (revealing my crumbs!), but sometimes it brings me peace (the lights on my tree in the darkness of early morning). I leave you with a verse that brought me comfort this week:

Are you ready to shine, Daughters of God?

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