We know the familiar image that’s present in most of our homes-
The lights are strung around the tree, a star glowing atop the evergreen.
A fire crackles and sparks in the fireplace, adding to the warmth of the room and our hearts.
Lights twinkle and dance in the bushes and trees outside our homes, illuminating the cold winter’s nights.
Candles dance and flicker in windows, on tables, and on mantles, shimmering as they enhance the coziness of our homes.
The very decorations of Christmas are ones of illumination, lustrous light. And as Christians, we are called to take this same light and shine it in our hearts, now more than ever.
But what happens when we aren’t feeling so merry and bright as the halls are being decked and sugarplums start a dancing?
This past week, I had the pleasure of finishing the often-masculine task of hanging the Christmas lights outside my home. As some of you may or may not know, my husband works for a little company called Collin Street Bakery, known for their festive-filled fruitcakes. Just like Santa prepping for the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve, my husband and the other bakery folks are working around the clock getting those fruitcakes out (no, don’t worry, my husband is NOT the person baking your fruitcake)…with that said, he doesn’t have a lot of free time in December to take on meaningful household tasks like stringing Christmas lights…therefore they fall to me.
Like always, I carefully began to unwrap them with the delicateness and sensitivity of a nuclear-bomb specialist, knowing one or two wrong moves could spell tangled tragedy. And, well what do you know, those bad boys went from neatly wrapped to a gnarled mess in my front yard faster than you could say, “Holly jolly Christmas”.
Oh what fun…she said sarcastically.
Twenty minutes later, the endless sea of knots was calmed and adorned the slightly pathetic but now festooned two-foot shrubs in my front yard. Now for the front door...of course I spent several minutes figuring out how to secure my bulky prelit garland around the door…after several feel of duck tape, extension cords, and a few nails, that sucker was up there for good. I went to plug it in and discovered half of it, only half, was illuminating.
Son of a nutcracker!
Don’t worry, I was able to carefully wrap another string of lights around the garland without having to take the whole thing down, but to say I was frustrated was a bit of an understatement.
But, y’all, those lights, that now glitter and decorate and shine, are just like us. We are meant, created, intended by our Creator to add light to the world, add joy to the world, add hope to the world.
Nonetheless, when one of us goes out, it can bring others down with us.
This Christmas and even beyond, we don’t want to be the kind of brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, friends, or teachers that extinguish the light of others.
Y’all know this world is dark enough as it is; the last thing any of us should be doing is adding to that darkness.
But we know it’s not always easy to let that light shine- divorce, cancer, drug and alcohol abuse, stress, estrangement, broken relationships- the daily struggles of this world and this life can be a royal beat down.
And if you’re trying to shine by yourself, good luck with that. The only way we can shine is by connecting to God’s empowerment, to His eternal light. When we do so, when we ask for His strength and His joy, His light POURS through us in powerful, brilliantly dazzling ways that can rival Clark Griswold’s house in Christmas Vacation (hands down my family’s favorite Christmas movie which we watch every Christmas Eve after church…ironic? I’d say so but that’s my family and I wouldn’t change a thing about us).
You may not even realize it, but you have so much potential to share with this world, so much light to bring.
But like that one pesky bulb on the strand, you have to be plugged in and securely connected to the main line in order to truly shine.
Isaiah 9:2 reminds us, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…”
Scripture doesn’t say a light might shine, a light can shine, a light may shine…a light WILL shine.
This light cannot be ignited on its own; it is one we must find. We must plug in.
I'm sorry...I couldn't help myself...
Christmas, the joy of Christ, the light of His love, can only be found.
It cannot be made, lit up, set out, dreamed up. It must be sought and found by us.
We must make ourselves available to His light, willing and open to receive the light, willing to accept His strength knowing on our own we are in darkness, we are darkness.
And this Light usually comes in unexpected ways. This world around us tries to whisper to us that nothing will ever improve, nothing will get better, nothing can change. We are alone. We are hopeless. We are in despair.
And you know what? The world is right. We are alone and hopeless and in despair if we try to face it on our own. Yet God favors the darkest of places so we can see Him shine the most brilliantly.
The light of Christ has come into this world to shatter our darkest shadows. Once we accept it, there’s no turning back. We become enrobed in the impenetrable, unconditional Light of Christ. For us, Christmas has no end. As Christians, we never stop living Christmas; Christmas lives within us and shines within us even once the presents are unwrapped and the stockings taken down.
This week, this advent, and onward, brave the flame of joy into this world.
Daniel shares, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
We are called not just to ignite this flame in ourselves, but to spread and share the light to others. With every candle lit, every bulb ignited, we can spark a Hope, which this season is all about.
Today’s Challenge and Prayer: Take a moment to consider who is someone God is calling you to spread some light to today. Christmas is a joyous season, but even in crowded rooms of loved ones people can still feel alone and hopeless. Take a few minutes to write someone a card, bring them a poinsettia, or just give them a call saying you’ve been thinking of them. You never know how God can use these light-filled moments for His glory.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, thank you that I do not have to shine by myself. You provide me with the joy and energy and power I need to take on the shadows and darkness of this world. Today, this week, this season, use me to make a difference, to spread your Light. Overflow me with Your love, joy, and hope so it may spill out to those in my workplace, my home, and my community. You are my hope, and Your light will never cease to burn in my heart and my life. I praise You for leading me in the light.
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!