I have wrestled with light against darkness this year and I have won.
It was a hard-earned victory, though, so while I have conquered, I am weary.
For a start, I slipped together the parts of our pre-lit Christmas tree, plugged it in and noticed burnt-out bulbs dotting the tree here and there.
Only, I couldn’t find the replacement bulbs. Anywhere.
So, I gave up. Most of the lights still worked, so I loaded that tree full of colorful beads and family ornaments.
Then, deep down in the bottom of the Rubbermaid ornament container, I discovered the baggy holding the new light bulbs.
(Note to self: It’s easier to replace lights on a tree when it doesn’t have ornaments all over it. Next year, make sure the lights are on top of the ornaments in the box.)
I finish the tree and move on to new things.
We have lived in our home now for 11 years. I have the Christmas decorating pretty much down to a well-rehearsed performance.
The garlands and lights are already strung together.
The strategically placed bows tell me where the corners sit when they are hung.
So, I just lift this Christmas greenery onto the nails that are in the same place as last year and the year before that and years and years back.
I plug the lights in.
And, voila. Christmas beauty in our home.
Only some years I am not so lucky. I plug in the strand of lights and it is dark. Dead.
Then I have to decide. Fight the fight? Hunt relentlessly for the bulb I need to replace to get this light strand shining again?
Or concede defeat from the beginning, untangle the dead lights from the garland and replace it with a new strand?
For years, I chose the hunt.
But usually I ended a thirty minute wrestling match with the light strand with my hands cut to pieces, broken fingernails galore, and absolutely drained of Christmas cheer plus this: a still-broken string of lights because I never found the offending bulb.
So, now, I choose to protect my joy and replace the lights instead. For about $5, I am a happier mom at Christmas time.
This year, though, my struggle has taken on new forms.
It was all of 40-some degrees out this morning with a bone-chillingly cold rain falling and I stood there in my heavy sweatshirt battling the light.
Somehow this year when I hang that same-old garland in the same-old place with those same-old lights, it didn’t fit. I either had too many lights or too few.
I do not know how this happened.
So, I have been working at this for days now because of our insanely busy schedule and the uncooperative weather.
Today, I have decided, is the day that I end this. I will win. In the rain. In the cold. I do not care.
So, I stretch and twist and wind that light around the garland, get to the end, plug the lights in….and half the lights don’t work.
These are the lights I just tested three days ago when they worked just fine.
So, I fight. I dig around the Christmas boxes until I find the replacement lights and I begrudgingly search for the burned out bulb because this year….this year, I will not be defeated.
Finally, I win.
I do not have the most beautifully or elaborately decorated home by anyone’s standard, but I do have light, and I am pleased.
Because light is worth fighting for.
And how we have had to fight this year.
I have attended the funerals.
I have prayed for those who lost their children.
I have listened to the bitter hurt of mourning and sadness.
I have reminded myself over and over of this: first things first–in the crushing busyness of the schedule, I choose Christ before all, and this is hard and it is yet another fight.
I have calmed my daughter down again and again and again when she frets over ISIS and terrorists and whether she is safe.
And right there in the midst of all that darkness, I look for His Light.
Because this is what God promises.
John tells us:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5 ESV).
Later in his life, John writes it again:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5 ESV).
Even in the pitchest black of the darkest night one shiny bulb can split through that darkness with fierce determination.
Even in the pitchest black of your darkest night, God can split through that darkness because Light is Who He Is.
This Christmas, seek His light.