The people who are sitting in darkness have seen a great light: Jesus came!
Almost 40 years ago, I found myself in a dilemma that seemed insurmountable. Living in Poland while it was still under the grips of a Communist regime was very challenging to all of us who worked there. Food was scarce, life was rigid and Christian ministries were not legally allowed. We worked with people under the radar and hosted Bible studies in our home, hoping we would not be discovered by the secret police.
One Christmas season, my roommate, Gwen, and I, decided to go visit our friends in Vienna over the holidays to have a break from the austere life of that particular season. But when we were ready to come back, and we had to come back by a certain date or we would lose our visas and ability to live there anymore, there was an unprecedented series of storms and freezing weather. Many told us it would be dangerous to drive our car in such weather.
However, we had no choice. Either we made it back by midnight or we would be kicked out of the country for good. Our visas would be invalid and we would not be able to enter without valid visas. Our ministry was at stake.
Wrapping ourselves in the warmest clothes, and storing food, water, flashlights, candles and blankets, near us, we began our journey home. The drive through security borders, guards checking our car for contraband, (Bibles or drugs), and the dogs sniffing all around our luggage, provided a very slow trip. Combined with frigid weather, we barely imagined we would make it into the Polish border in time. We literally got through the final set of border guards with only minutes to spare.(There was a little miracle story I tell about in the podcast!)
Now, we had to drive a couple more hours to the city where we lived. When we finally drove into Krakow, where we lived in a small apartment, we had such difficulty finding our way. The electricity had been blown by the storm throughout the whole city. Struggling through shadowy streets with no traffic lights, street lights or house lights, we struggled along in blindness, guessing our way through the fog.
Finally, we had inched our way to our street and there in the window of an apartment in our building was a single candle, but that light showed us the way home. In the deep darkness and fog, it beamed brightly as a lighthouse to welcome us. Because it was surrounded by such deep darkness, its light was even more exceptional and magnificent.
Jesus is that kind of light.
Surrounded by darkness in thought, morals, politics, values, every arena of the world, He shines brightly to show us His sure way. And when we are filled with the light of God in the midst of such darkness, people will be attracted to His light in us. And our homes can also be that lighthouse in our world, as we lift up His reality among people who live by performance, fear, bitterness, insecurity, or rebellion.
What does it mean, to walk in the light of God? Walking in His light amidst the deep darkness means we have to look for the light, we have to strain for God's direction. While walking in darkness, we will stumble and fall if we do not keep our eyes on the light.
I have always engaged and embraced this verse:
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn which shines brighter and brighter until the full day, but the way of the wicked is like deep darkness: they do not even know over what they stumble. Proverbs 4:18
Walking in the light doesn't mean getting all of our desires met or having a perfect life. Walking in His light means that we will look for his light, seek the answers to life from His perspective and to enter into His design and purposes.
Walking in His light means we are given the insight and grace to endure all of life's pathways , the grace to look back and see that God has produced maturity and contentment through the circumstances of my life. We see that He has given us real internal joy and freedom and self-confidence that isn't dependent on what others think about us--as we walk in different ways than the world.
After many years and difficulties, and living through some very dark corridors of life, I can see that the light of Christ was my sure guide and led me to spiritual strengthening, deeper understanding of His Kingdom, of His "laid down life." I find today I am so much more the person I always wanted to be, but I had no idea what He would have to do to empty my life from darkness of my grasp on this world, in order to fill it with His light. His light shines on my deepest desires and I know joy because He is leading my life—and I'm thankful I don't always get everything I want or request.
Walking in His light is not simply a means of self-satisfaction, though. Sometimes we are fooled into thinking this. When we are weary and exhausted from the sheer amount of physical labor and energy expended in the service of our families, we become deeply stressed because we thought life would be easier.
We didn't know how much work our children would take or how imperfect our husbands could be. What happened to the Prince Charming whose sole purpose in life was to meet my needs and make me feel beautiful? I once read that depression is the result of unresolved anger. If this is true, I think that the anger stemming from "not having life work as we thought it should" is one that causes many precious women to live with depressed feelings, all the time.
But that is why walking in the true, sustaining light of God is so vital. It is truly only by His grace that we can live in a redemptive way, trusting all the disappointments to Him, gaining strength to make it one more day. His light doesn't make life perfect; His light redeems every circumstance and ushers us into the reality of the kingdom lived out on earth, which basically means God's perfection is working within a very sinful world.
The amazing truth I have come to see, though, is that when I walk in His light and choose His ways, my home becomes a light house. Not only do my children learn from me how to choose light, to follow after His light, but our home becomes a light house--a place where others can look and find guidance, love, forgiveness, truth, righteousness, wisdom.
Are you building your home into a lighthouse--that is shines forth as a haven where others can come out of the darkness to experience the comfort of light?
So what does it look like to walk in the light? I personally think that walking in the light requires me to take time to be in God's presence in quietness every day so I can refuel from the one source of true light.
Seeking to walk in God's light means ...
- taking the Sabbath as a time each week to put aside work and to enjoy a day of rest and restoring
- building specific times into my life where I can regain an eternal perspective
- taking time in relationships to fellowship with others—my husband and my friends—who love me and encourage me and build into my life, so that I have something to give back to all those who would tax my life. Good company is essential to growing as a person of light. The company you keep will often determine a part of the person you become. (He who walks with the wise will be wise, a companion of fools suffers harm.)
Interestingly, walking in the light is not something I can attain by a teeth-gritted effort; rather, it is a choice I make to pull away from the world for moments, so I can be refilled, seek light, and choose to walk in it when I return to the world waiting just beyond my quiet time chair. And it is in those times that I am filled up for living my days well. In those times I seek to see my life through God's eyes, learning what He wants me to learn and knowing that His desire is for me to enjoy life and to celebrate His light every moment. I am refilling my soul's bucket so there will be more insightful nuggets from which my family can draw.
Walking in the light of Christ and His ways requires a decision, a commitment to subdue my schedule so that I can take time to refuel and restore. An intentional building of light into the habits, rituals and rhythms of my days so that my family, my children, my friends are with me in His light ways.
It is also recognizing the truth that if, as Romans 12:2 says, God's will is "good and acceptable and perfect," then God has not given me more than I can do. If I am living beyond my means, feeling stretched, dry, and dark, then I need to simplify my life so that I can find time to be sure that I am walking in His light—holding on to His perspective, being refreshed in His energy, resting in His wisdom, restoring in the relationships that He designed to be a blessing to me.
More traditions on the podcast of how to make your home a light place.
Do you walk in the light? How can you experience more of the light and life of God, and carry it to your own world?
Light Verses for this week--read at least one a day and ponder it in light of your stewardship to both recognize His light and to be a light to others and to cultivate light in your home.
Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
Matthew 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
John 8:12 Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 12:35 Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come on you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes.
Ephesians 5:14 Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
(I just had to include more light verses because it should be the light of Christ that illumines every part of our lives.
*A tradition: Pick favorite scriptures and put them up in your home in prominent places. But be sure to take them down from the walls each year to talk about what these verses really mean to your family. (We use meal times to discuss the verses we have in our home.)
*Read a great book like God's Smuggler to show a man who reflected God's light, (or a biography about Hudson Taylor or Amy Carmichael, who brought the light of Christ to China
*This week, I invited a 10 year old girl over to have tea with me. As a beautiful little one who was lonely, I wanted to be the friend she needed at this time in her life. We had a grand time.
*Memorize at least three of these verses with hour family this month.
*Take a plate of cookies to a neighbor and give them a kind "Autumn Greetings" note to begin opening up a relationship with someone in your immediate life. (My children loved to make cookie plates and then prayed for the people we delivered them to--sometimes 10-12 people in our lives who needed some special attention. They helped me bake, wrap the plates with ribbon and write the cards.)