My son decisively flicks off the overhead lights in the kitchen.
This is inconvenient since I am actually cooking dinner at that precise moment.
So, I flick the lights back on and thereby initiate a light battle.
Off. On. Off. On.
Finally, he pushes down the switch one more time and says, “Mom, it’s pretty!”
That’s when he points to the Christmas lights: Our Victorian village with houses, stores, a library and church all glowing; The garland strung with lights surrounding our nativity scene; the Christmas tree glowing from the living room.
Everywhere there is light.
But it shows up best against the darkness and he knows it.
So, I acquiesce a bit because I understand this quest for beauty.
When I need to see into the back recesses of the cabinet, I turn the switch on. When I’m finished digging out ingredients and just stirring them into the pot on the stove, I keep it off.
Maybe my son and I are kindred spirits in this.
Each morning, before I have shuffled over to the teapot to heat water for my tea, before I have poured cereal into the bowl for my toddler, before I have fed the cat, I journey around our home and plug in every string of Christmas lights we have.
Only then am I prepared to start the day’s routine.
And throughout the day, I work and clean and write by the light of tiny Christmas bulbs whenever possible.
The light and the glow bring me a sweet, indefinable peace and a little bit of extra joy. It reminds me that even when I feel surrounded by darkness, the Light has come.
That is what Christmas is.
That is what Christmas promises.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. (Isaiah 9:2 ESV).
What a blinding revelation of God’s glory as the Light of Christ shot through the darkness into a Bethlehem night.
So many missed it, though. So many didn’t see.
But the angels declared it. The shepherds worshiped. The wise men followed.
And Zechariah sang a song of praise to God at his own son’s birth because he knew the Light was coming:
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace (Luke 1:78-79 MSG).
Maybe I enjoy my son’s pronouncements that the Christmas decorations are “pretty” because I need the reminder to actually look and see.
Too often I’m the one missing it instead of following His glory like Zechariah and those angels and shepherds and wise men long ago.
This year might have worn us down. It might have exhausted our souls and depleted our reserves of hope.
We’re so desperate for His Light in our darkness.
This week I read in the Psalms a verse that perfectly described my heart this year:
My eyes strain to see your rescue, to see the truth of your promise fulfilled. Psalm 119:123
We want to see. We desperately, deeply want to see promises fulfilled, rescue coming, salvation here, prayers answered.
Yet, still we wait.
Advent reminds me to keep looking, keep straining my eyes to see, keep hunting for the Light like it’s the greatest treasure and the truest longing of my soul.
Because Advent is all about the longing, the seeking and searching, the expectant wait and the assurance that the promises are fulfilled.
Christ indeed came.
God’s people didn’t wait forever.
Finally, in God’s perfect timing, the Light cut through the darkness and it shone on His people.
But here’s what else I realize as my son points to the “pretty” lights…
Sometimes we need others to reveal the light for us.
Just like we languish in the darkness, just like we long for hope, for joy, for peace, so do those around us.
And maybe this year, instead of worrying over the darkness ourselves, we can help point to the Light just as Zechariah did in his song of praise. Just like the angels did as they declared “Glory to God in the Highest.”
Just as the shepherds did as they ran out of the stable to tell everyone about “this thing that has happened.”
Just as the wise men did as they laid their gifts before the small Messiah.
The joy of the light isn’t just in the seeing; it’s in the sharing.
May we see the Light of Christ cut through the darkness this year.
May we also share the Light of Christ, may we seek out ways to be light so that others can learn to see, too.
Originally published 12/2/2016