There was evening and there was morning

My son is holding me to a very strict Christmas decorating regimen this year and I  am not meeting his deadlines.

But, he’s five and excited, so I don’t fret too much.  I want the house decorated,  too, and I understand all the anticipation and expectation.

Normally, I am a weekend-after Thanksgiving decorator when it comes  to Christmas.

But this year,  some family traveling changed our routine a bit.  I wasn’t even home to start decking the halls until Sunday afternoon and by then I was already behind my son’s schedule.

Why in the world was our tree not up the moment Thanksgiving ended?  That’s what he wanted to  know.

Perhaps he expected little Christmas decorating elves to apply themselves to the task while we were away.  In fact, that’d be a sweet surprise for me,  too!

Alas, no elves strung the lights or hung the stockings and garland.  So, that meant working away bit by bit, light strand by light strand with one consistent periodic interruption from my taskmaster 5-year-old:   “Are the lights up yet?  Where are the lights?  When will the lights be done?”

What  my son doesn’t fully understand is this is all a process: The cleaning up of Thanksgiving decorations, the unpacking of Christmas decorations, putting the tree up and pulling out the ladder to decorate outside, checking light strands and replacing burnt out bulbs, untangling garland, finding extension cords and plugging everything in.

It’s not a snap my fingers and voila kind of  thing.  It’s working away, little by little, with patience until there is light and beauty and Christmas.

And this is the way, isn’t it?  Most  of the time we just want the light and we want the light now.  We tire easily of delays, of waiting, of tension or difficulty.

Giving up on hope feels easier than continuing to look for redemption.

Here’s the truth built  into the very structure of creation, though, and this is what we fight against, but this is what is nevertheless true:

First there is evening.  Then there is morning.

First there is the waiting.  Then there is the sunrise.

First there is dark.  Then there is light.

First there is the resting in the Lord.  Then there is His miraculous provision of sun, of light, of hope fulfilled, of redemption and of His glory.

Genesis 1 peals out  this reminder like  a relentless echo, every single day of creation ends in the same way:

“And there was evening and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5 NASB).

Every day, God’s acts of creation ended the same:   Evening.  Morning.

Never the other way around.  Never the light first, the glory first, the joy first,  the fulfillment first.  Always the investment of walking and waiting through the dark of night until  God delivers with the morning dawn.

And He does deliver.  So, we have that  consistent assurance in creation itself that yes, this is darkness right now and it is hard to have faith, yes it looks  bleak, it’s heartbreaking and difficult,  yes you are weary and maybe frightened to your very core or overwhelmed because you simply cannot see….

But this:  “There was morning.”

There  will be morning.

Eugene Peterson describes this as “victory of God’s light.”

He said:

God’s day is not complete  until light shines again, penetrating the darkness and dispersing the shadows.  The creative action of God is light, which encloses and limits a temporary darkness…The shadows are there–night descends upon life–and there is that which seems to defy God, to disturb his order and his purpose: sickness, death,  trouble, and sorrow. But it does not have the last word:  ‘And there  was morning, one day.’ (Every Step an Arrival)

We have the promise also that even when we feel blind and abandoned in the dark places, God sees through.  Before we can ever see Him, He sees us—He always sees us.

The Psalmist said:

“Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psalm 139:12 NASB)

I read this explanation  in Barnes’s notes on the Bible:

” things appear dark to us–disappointment, bereavement, trouble, care, losses; but all is light to God.”

It’s all light to Him.

So, maybe I can hold on through the process.  Maybe I can cling a little harder to hope.  Maybe I can wait a little longer before giving up,  before despairing, before looking for an easier way.

Because this isn’t dark to Him.  And because at the end of this, at the end of all of this evening….there will be morning.  There will be light again.

Bible Verses for when you need God’s Light

  • Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
        whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
        of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 119:105 ESV
    Your word is a lamp to my feet
        and a light to my path.
  • Psalm 119:130 ESV
    The unfolding of your words gives light;
        it imparts understanding to the simple.
  • Ecclesiastes 2:13 ESV
    Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
  • Isaiah 60:1 ESV
    Arise, shine, for your light has come,
        and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
  • Matthew 4:16 ESV
    the people dwelling in darkness
        have seen a great light,
    and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
        on them a light has dawned.”
  • Matthew 5:14 ESV
    You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
  • Matthew 5:16 ESV
    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
  • Luke 11:34-35 ESV
    Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.
  • John 1:5 ESV
    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  • John 8:12 ESV
    Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 9:5 ESV
    As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
  • John 12:35
    So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer.Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
  • Romans 13:12 ESV
    The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 ESV
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 5:13-14 ESV
    But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
    “Awake, O sleeper,
        and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
  • James 1:7 ESV
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • 1 John 1:7 ESV
    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
  • Revelation 21:23 ESV
    And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Bible Verses about “The Lord is My…”

  • Exodus 15:2 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
  • Exodus 17:15 ESV
    And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner,
  • 2  Samuel 22:2 ESV
    He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
  • Psalm 16:5 ESV
    The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
  • Psalm 18:2 ESV
    The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Psalm 23:1 ESV
    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  • Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 28:7 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
  • Psalm 118:14 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
  • Psalm 119:57 ESV
    The Lord is my portion;
        I promise to keep your words.
  • Lamentations 3:24 ESV
    The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
  • Zechariah 13:9 ESV
    And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’
  • Hebrews 13:6 ESV
     So we can confidently say,
    The Lord is my helper;
        I will not fear;
    what can man do to me?”

Bible Verses about Shining

Shining for Christ

  • Ecclesiastes 8:1 CSB
    Who is like the wise person, and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A person’s wisdom brightens his face, and the sternness of his face is changed
  • Isaiah 60:1 CSB
    Arise, shine, for your light has come,

    and the glory of the Lord shines over you
  • Daniel 12:3 CSB
    Those who have insight will shine
    like the bright expanse of the heavens,
    and those who lead many to righteousness,
    like the stars forever and ever.
  • Matthew 5:16 CSB
    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  • Matthew 13:43 CSB
    Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears listen.
  • Philippians 2:15 CSB
    so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world

How the Lord shines

  • Numbers 6:25 CSB
    may the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you
  • Psalm 4:6 CSB
    Many are asking, “Who can show us anything good?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us, Lord.
  • Psalm 18:28 CSB
    Lord, you light my lamp;
    my God illuminates my darkness.
  • Psalm 31:16 CSB
    Make your face shine on your servant;
    save me by your faithful love.
  • Psalm 67:1 CSB
    May God be gracious to us and bless us;
    may he make his face shine upon usSelah
  • Psalm 80:1 CSB
    Listen, Shepherd of Israel,
    who leads Joseph like a flock;
    you who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine
  • Psalm 80:3 CSB
    Restore us, God;
    make your face shine on us,
    so that we may be saved.
  • Psalm 80:7 CSB
    Restore us, God of Armies;
    make your face shine on us, so that we may be saved.
  • Psalm 80:19 CSB
    Restore us, Lord, God of Armies;
    make your face shine on us, so that we may be saved.
  • Psalm 94:1 CSB
    Lord, God of vengeance—
    God of vengeance, shine!
  • Psalm 119:135 CSB
    Make your face shine on your servant,
    and teach me your statutes.
  • Psalm 139:12 CSB
    even the darkness is not dark to you.
    The night shines like the day;
    darkness and light are alike to you.
  • Isaiah 60:19 CSB
    The sun will no longer be your light by day,
    and the brightness of the moon will not shine on you.
    The Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your splendor.
  • Luke 1:79 CSB
    to shine on those who live in darkness
    and the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:6 CSB
    For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 5:14 CSB
    for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore it is said:
    Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.
  • Revelation 21:23
     The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

 

The Light Shines Best Through the Darkness #Advent

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.

Isaiah prophesied:

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

Bible Verses when you need God’s Light

verses-on-light

  • Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
        whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
        of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 119:105 ESV
    Your word is a lamp to my feet
        and a light to my path.
  • Psalm 119:130 ESV
    The unfolding of your words gives light;
        it imparts understanding to the simple.
  • Ecclesiastes 2:13 ESV
    Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
  • Isaiah 60:1 ESV
    Arise, shine, for your light has come,
        and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
  • Matthew 4:16 ESV
    the people dwelling in darkness
        have seen a great light,
    and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
        on them a light has dawned.”
  • Matthew 5:14 ESV
    You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
  • Matthew 5:16 ESV
    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
  • Luke 11:34-35 ESV
    Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.
  • John 1:5 ESV
    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  • John 8:12 ESV
    Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 9:5 ESV
    As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
  • John 12:35
    So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer.Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
  • Romans 13:12 ESV
    The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 ESV
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 5:13-14 ESV
    But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
    “Awake, O sleeper,
        and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
  • James 1:7 ESV
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • 1 John 1:7 ESV
    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
  • Revelation 21:23 ESV
    And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

The joy of light is in the sharing

isaiah-9

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.

Isaiah prophesied:

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.

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.