Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Lights

One of the things I enjoy about furlough is seeing the Christmas lights and lighted decorations on lawns. People in Brazil may hang a string of lights on their upstairs window, but nothing compares to what Americans are able to do simply because they do not put a wall around their houses. Shrubs are covered with the lights that seem to form a blanket over the top. Windows and doors are bordered with multicolored lights that outline the house. Some have the lighted reindeer and Santa lawn decorations. One house down the street even covered a large anchor in the yard with white lights. It seems there is no end to options if you want to put out some Christmas decorations. And, I can best enjoy them while riding down the street at night. They can make a trip to the local Walgreens a pleasure and I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

It seems to me the lights take on a whole new measure of “prettiness” when they are covered by a blanket of snow. Last night was our first significant snowfall and I did not venture out, but I would like to this evening just to ride around and look at the lights under the snow. They glow differently and add an extra measure of beauty to the Christmas decorations. As I was thinking about these lights I was reminded of the fact that our Savior came to this world as a light. John 1:4-5 say, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

I keep several flashlights handy. I even had one that had a magnet stuck to my refrigerator. I keep them in the kitchen and on a large dresser under the stairs. Anyone that borrows them has to return them to those spots. Why? Because when the power goes out I want to be able to find them! You can imagine how irritated I get when they’re not where they’re supposed to be when I look for them. But, I digress… Anyway, I also use them when we are doing small repairs because sometimes you just need a little extra light when trying to put something back together. These flashlights are indispensable to me because they guide me in the dark. When the power goes out it’s nice to be able to see a few feet in front of me. I hate running into walls! I can save myself a lot of time if I can see what I’m doing when I’m putting that appliance back together. The light is a guide.

However, this is not some great revelation on my part. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my pathCross references:.” (Psalm 119:105) God’s Word does the same thing and the Word was personified in the person of Jesus Christ. His Word guides me. He guides me. He lights the way so I can see where I’m going and keeps me from getting myself in trouble. I’m kept from running into the walls of sin and guided to not waste my time on trying to decide between right and wrong. What’s right is clearly illuminated.

When we are at camp the generator is turned off every night which plunges the island into darkness that can be quite thick if the moon is not out. Before the lights go out, though, I usually have to make a trip from the canteen to my cabin or to the court. The path between these locations can be pretty dark and I get a little nervous if I don’t have my flashlight. Did I mention there are snakes at camp? So, I focus on the light at my destination. The court lights shine brightly ahead of me and I keep my head up and look at them as I walk. I take comfort in the fact that I will be there soon and I will be safe. I know that the light is a refuge if for no other reason than I will be able to see what’s in my surroundings.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1) Again, I am trumped by the Word. I take great comfort in seeing the light at my destination or even the proverbial end of the tunnel. Why is that? Because I know that my salvation is there. I won’t be in the darkness anymore and the uncertainty of my surroundings. The light reveals all. Jesus Christ has revealed all about how my life and practice should be. There’s no mystery there. It’s all in plain black and white and I take great comfort in knowing the certainty of the Truth.

As I think about these two great truths for my life I am challenged to also be a light. Jesus told the multitude, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14) When we are arriving in Petrolina at night at the end of a trip I can see the glow of the lights from a long way off. As we get closer I begin to distinguish the dots of lights. It can’t be hidden and it invades the darkness. When the Lord applied the metaphor of Christians being the light of the world He meant for me to stand out, to guide unbelievers, and to beckon them with the comfort salvation brings. It’s both practical and profound and I have to ask myself if I am shining my light with enough dedication that it can be seen even under a blanket of the snow of this world.

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