I Have Wrestled with the Light

john-1-5

I have wrestled with light against darkness this year and I have won.

But it was a hard-earned victory, so while I have conquered, I am weary.

Maybe you have fought this fight, too?

I was full of expectant hope when I plugged in our pre-lit tree. I wanted the easy victory.  Put the tree together, plug it in, and enjoy the beauty.

Now at first I didn’t want this pre-lit tree because of the risk and the danger of one day plugging it in and seeing only darkness.  I wanted the old-fashioned kind of artificial tree where you wrap the lights yourself.

When we went tree shopping several years ago, though, pre-lit was the only option at the store.  And so far, we had decorated with ease.

But this year I saw my prophecy fulfilled, a pre-lit tree full of lights that didn’t work.

It was a struggle, intense and long and not without its share of scars, but I overcame the darkness, pulling out the old and dead, even cutting it away at times, all so I could bring in the new, the fresh and the full-of-light.

Having conquered the tree, I moved onto other decorations the next day:  The garland outside, with lights wound around it still from last year–only half of those lights turned on, too.

And the garland inside that I drape over the mirrors—no lights working there either.

These decorations are tried and tested in our home.  They are exactly measured to the spaces they fill and most years I can simply lift them into place and plug them in.

Voila.  Christmas beauty.

Not this year.

So I had 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.

Now, I choose to protect my joy and replace the lights instead.  For about $5, I am a happier mom at Christmas time.

That’s how it went this year, having to unwind and undo just so I could rewind and redo.

I fought an epic battle.  I twisted and tossed. I wrangled and wrestled.

Finally, I won.

I have light and I am pleased.  My kids ooh and aahh.

I realize this: LIGHT IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

And how we have had to fight this year.  

Have you?

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 sat by hospital beds and carried meals and prayed for dear friends with cancer.

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.

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.

He is light, and in seasons of desperate darkness, what we need is Him.

In the dark, maybe we feel the strangling hold of fear. Maybe we feel disappointed and discouraged.  Maybe deeply saddened and hopeless.

But the Psalmist reminds us:

“To you the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to you”  Psalm 139:12

God is not afraid, not of this darkness, not of the unseen or the unknown, not of the long night or the battle and the struggle.

Darkness and light: it’s all the same to Him, because He Himself is the light we need.

He shines through.

This Christmas, may we insist on seeing the Light.

May we open our eyes wide and ask for His presence, His light to shine, His glory to be seen.

 

 

I have wrestled with light

John 1-5

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.  

Have you?

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.

 

Let There Be Light

She stood by my bed at midnight.  Holding her Bumblebee Pillow Pet in one hand, she dragged her pink and purple quilt behind her.

I fumbled for my glasses and reached out a hand to stroke her hair.

“Mom,” she cried, “it’s too dark.”

I walked with my daughter back to her room and realized that the one light we always keep on had been turned off accidentally.  Our house was truly black.

It’s as if my girl has an internal light-sensory device.  As soon as she sensed darkness, she had awoken and plodded across the house half-asleep in order to regain light.

Have you ever grown aware of darkness? 
Have you woken up to a sun-bright day, but still feel the heaviness of the unknown? 
Have you felt pommeled by Satan, test and trial after test and trial, and you lose hope of the brightness of the future? 
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by shadows, gloom, fear and worry?

We’re like plants, always growing toward a source of light, reaching up and over obstacles until we bask in the warm, nourishing rays of the sun.

We can do this with God because He is a light-bringer.  He is always shining brightness into our dark places.

God “divided the light from the darkness” at creation (Genesis 1:4) and declared that it was good.  It was His first act as Creator in a formless void of a world.

And when God sent us a Savior, He declared that Jesus was “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:7-9).  This is what the prophet Isaiah had promised: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

What does this mean for us?  What does a God who forms light out of darkness and a Savior who brings light to the world mean for our lives now?

It means we can trust Him to shine on the steps we need to take, to reveal His will, and to be present in our darkest moments.  David rejoiced: “For you are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29).  In the Psalms, David also wrote:
“For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness (Psalm 18:28).

God is just like the one light we leave on in my house after we’ve flicked off the other switches.  He is our Lamp at all times and in all places.

Even so, we all have moments when we can’t see the light, can’t feel its warmth, can’t identify its glow.  We’re in the shadows and we know it.  What then?

David also wrote : “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

He is with us in the shadows and He will walk us on out of there.  We need not fear.

In the same way, my daughter stopped crying the moment I grabbed her hand at midnight and guided her back to her room.  She was calmed by my presence even before I turned on the lamp and tucked her back into bed.

God is with us in the dark places.  He knows and sees us there.  Not only that, we can ask Him to reveal to us the treasures hidden in the shadows.

Isaiah tells us:  “I will give you the treasures of darkness and And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel” (Isaiah 45:3).

Daniel similarly wrote: “He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:22).

Maybe there’s great treasure hidden in your darkness right now.  Perhaps God longs to share with you secret things that are covered over in shadow, lessons we can’t learn in perpetual sunshine and a knowledge of Him that we can only discover in the valley.

Why is darkness so frightening to us?  Is it because we can’t see where we’re going?  Is it because we don’t know what’s hidden in the shadows?  Is it because we can’t tell who is next to us?

Whatever our fears, whoever “walks in darkness and has no light” can “trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon His God” (Isaiah 50:10).  We can be certain of His presence.  We can trust Him to shine brightly when we need to see.  We can count on Him to see through darkness and reveal to us the secrets and treasures of the deep places.

So, reach for God’s light today, just like the plant on the windowsill bending toward the sun.  In the middle of your darkness, your sadness or despair, your gloom or hopeless state and all the shadows of the unknown, stretch out until you are warmed by His presence and in awe of His glory.

For more thoughts on this topic, you can read these other devotionals:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King