Looking out our kitchen window at night, I look at the house in the next street. They have a small Christmas tree perched on their upstairs windowsill. When it is dark, the lights on that tree shine so beautifully bright against a black backdrop. Seeing this light gives me joy and comfort – it is pretty dark outside with not much light at all! It reminds me of another Light that came into our dark world over 2000 years ago. A Light that we celebrate every year in December and one that lights up my life 365 days of the year.
Lights are everywhere, brightening up the dark nights as people decorate their homes with colour. I honestly wouldn’t want to look at the electricity bill for some of these houses! It got me thinking that we cannot shine brightest without being plugged into the Source. Like fairy lights on a Christmas tree, we are connected together and we are plugged to the Light of the world shining light to others. We do not need to worry about any electricity bill because Jesus paid it in full on the cross. His light will never fade. Because of His light, we can shine brightly and boldly with confidence.
Jesus brings light and life into the heart of everyone who believes in Him. He brings hope to all people – whether Christian or not. He can bring you out from darkness into the wonderful certainty of everlasting life – if you let that light shine in your life.
Yesterday I had somewhere to be and I was running a little late. You probably know what that feels like. Is it just me or does it feel like in those times more obstacles seem to get in the way? It can feel like you have a lot to overcome to get to where you need to be. A lady pulled up in her car delivering Christmas cards and asked if I knew where someone lived – and I did – and she asked if I could deliver it. Then there was traffic at a junction where there is never normally any traffic so I couldn’t cross for ages. Then I had to walk slowly behind someone I couldn’t overtake for a while. You know what I mean right? Time was ticking!
Life can sometimes feel like a load of obstacles to try and overcome. But what if the obstacles we encounter are to make us stronger, to prove our character, to refine us? To see these times as opportunities, rather than hindrances? Yeah, OK. That sounds tough. I once said to a friend ‘I wish I had more patience.’ She wisely replied, ‘God might not just grant you patience, but give you opportunities to be patient.’ As important as it is to get to where we are going, we should see every moment as part of the greater whole.
Sometimes I encounter obstacles which can try and make my light for Jesus get dim. At the worst of times when the darkness feels to great, I am afraid that my light will go out completely. However, the Lord promises never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). At those times of deep darkness and times of depression in my own life, the light still shines even if it is others shining a torch of truth in my face! In times of the greatest darkness, the light shines even brighter.
‘If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me”— even the darkness is not dark to You, but the night shines like the day, for darkness is as light to You.’ Psalm 139:11-12
One of the blessings in the town where I live is that the local church has a beautiful cross that is lit up at night from the highest point. It is beaming light and can be seen from a distance. When people look at the cross lit up I wonder what they think. Do they know that the light of Christ came down for them personally – that Jesus died for them and welcomes them? Would they realise that the darkness, uncertainty and evil in the world is not the end of the story? Do they know that no matter how great the darkness is in their lives, there is hope? Do they see the cross and see an old, out-of-touch religion or do they see the living God as fully man and fully God taking on the sins of the world so we are no longer separated from Him?
Darkness is not the end of the story with Jesus. The cross might seem like the end. Being buried in a tomb might seem like end. If Jesus was left in the tomb and in the darkness, what hope would there be? What hope would there be in life or death? Death comes eventually to us all, but is that it? Is it just darkness? The end?
But Jesus did not stay in the tomb.
On the third day He was risen! What a hope! What a light!
We are not left without Him. He sends His Spirit to be in us until His return again when darkness will be no more and evil will cease.
‘But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.’ John 14:26
In the excitement and anticipation of Christmas, or perhaps the fear and anxiety that it brings, I encourage you to look to Jesus. Whether you’ve heard the Christmas story a thousand times or can’t remember anything about it except a few shepherds and this baby in some sort of basket thing, don’t stop there. Whether you’ve found Christians irritating or tolerable, don’t stop there. Don’t keep putting up obstacles for yourself or allowing obstacles to prevent you from getting to know Jesus. Whether for the first time of really considering the claims of Jesus or needing to draw near to Him again after a time. Know that Jesus has cleared the way and defeated the greatest obstacle – sin and death – so you can know God for yourself and come to Him as a friend, adopted into His family as sons and daughters.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5