I Have Wrestled with the Light


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.


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).



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.



Sabbath in the Busy Season

My husband shoos me away from the kitchen.

A teething baby had me up and down most of the night, so my husband tells me to go get some rest.

In a bit….

When I finish….

I still have stuff on my to-do list…..and then maybe….psalm 116

The problem is the to-do list keeps growing because I have eyes that see mess and clutter and projects everywhere I look.  I’m trying to clean while my kids are home and we all know how that goes.

He says it simple: You’ll always have things on your to-do list.

That’s life-changing wisdom that bounces around in my head all this week and settles in my heart as I prepare for the holiday rush of an overstuffed calendar.

This busy life, this busy season and yet still I try to live a lie: that at some point I’ll finish the list, the busyness on the calendar will end, and then I can rest because every single project and chore is done, done, done.

And since that never happens, rest never happens.

I learn from Priscilla Shirer’s book, Breathe, that the word for Sabbath (Shabbat) means:  “to come to an end, to cease, to stop, to pause” (Priscilla Shirer, p. 42)

Sometimes that pausing and ceasing and stopping is a choice that you have to make.  I don’t have to finish what I’m doing.  I just need to press pause and rest anyway.

Leviticus 23:32 says:

“It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must practice self-denial


That’s what Sabbath requires.

But not the kind we law-loving humans tend to push down on each other’s shoulders.

We make self-denial about do’s and don’ts.  We make regulations.  We make rules.  This is what Sabbath should look like.  This is what rest has to look like.  This is what you can do.  This is what you can’t do.

We wring the joy right out of the Sabbath with our Pharisaical attempts to make holier what God has already made holy.

Not, it’s this: Rest is self-denial.

It denies that compulsion to work and work and do and do.  It declines to base our identity on performance and accomplishment and forces us to rest in His love for us.

Adrenaline is my addiction.  The rush and stress of it all pushes me along and when it’s removed, I’m a nervous, jittery, restless soul not sure of what to do or how to be.

Sabbath is the rehab my soul needs.

Sabbath sets me into the rhythm of rest and re-sets my life on the foundation of grace instead of the shaky ground of works and law and self.

In my 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, I’ve spent this month Practicing Sabbath Keeping and I’ve met Him here in this holy space.

Just like Moses did on that sacred mountain:

“The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days.  And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud” (Ex. 24:16, ESV).

God called to Moses on the seventh day….

That glory lingered in preparation for six days, but on the seventh day, God’s voice boomed out of that cloud and called Moses close for intimacy and revelation.

In Breathe, Priscilla Shirer writes again:

“I’m praying that the Lord brings all of the glory held in the arms of the ‘seventh day’ to you and me. I’m asking, of course, that we’ll see His presence and sense His favor in our every activity, every day of the week.  But in those spaces and margins–those ‘seventh day’ borders–that our ‘no’s’ create, may we hear the voice of God and experience nearness of fellowship with Him like never before.

The holiday season presses in and threatens to overwhelm us with expectations and perfection and activity.

But isn’t Christ what we want in the midst of it all?  Don’t we want His glory more than tinsel and lights and His voice more than presents with ribbons and bows?

And if I want Christ more than this, more than it all, then I begin right here.  I deny self.  I press pause on the to-do list.  I cease the activity.

I find room to breathe.

And I ask Him to show me His glory here in the seventh-day spaces I create in my life.  That’s His invitation to invade my life with His presence.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Practice Sabbath-Keeping’?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King