A little more light, please

coleus pineapplePoor lighting drives me crazy. I want a room that’s well lit. Turn on every lamp and light; open every sunny window. Give me light and lots of it. I think that’s why this time of year can be so draining on me. There just isn’t enough light.

I wake up very early every morning, so regardless of the time of year it’s never daylight when I awake. But walking out of my office and going home at the end of a workday in darkness gives me the feeling that I’ve missed something. I feel like I’ve been robbed of hours that were meant for something else. For a visit with a friend, running an errand or two, or catching up on life with my husband.

I know the hours are still there. The lack of daylight hasn’t reduced a day from 24 hours to 18. But it sure feels like it. It’s dark. It’s cold. My energy is gone. I need a little more light, please.

hellebore-3-03-08Pretty much everything requires at least a little light. Some more than others. The plants in my garden are like that. I have some plants like hostas, ferns and hellebores that can’t tolerate full sun. Then there are those like my roses and ornamental grasses that wouldn’t thrive without huge doses of it.

I know that without light my roses wouldn’t flower. My vegetable plants wouldn’t produce vegetables. Those plants have to bloom before they can bear fruit. It’s the same with us. We need light in order to bloom. We have to have light if we want to be fruitful. We rely on The Light.

Not only do we need light, we are expected to live out that light. It lights paths… for us and for those around us. And it produces fruit. Until recently I never really considered the fact that there is fruit that comes from light. It was another of those instances when I read a passage of Scripture that I had probably read a hundred times before, but this time I saw something different.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  (Ephesians 5:8-13)

There is fruit that comes from light. I already understood the fact that light is necessary for fruit production, but I didn’t really grasp the concept that the fruit comes from the light. I only understood the concept of the fruit coming from the plant. Even in a spiritual sense.

bignonia-capreolata-buds-a-04-12-10I’ve learned from many valuable lessons God has taught me as He has let me see myself as a plant, or at least as a part of a plant.  Just like in the book of John when Jesus tells us that He is the True Vine and we are branches in that vine. But this verse in Ephesians helped me see something completely different: something very liberating.

…(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)…

Goodness, righteousness and truth. Those are fruits that are difficult to produce. But as Christians we ought to be bearing them in abundance. Now here’s the beautiful revelation from Ephesians 5:9. Here’s the enlightenment God gave me. I don’t have to produce it. It’s not the fruit of Janet. It’s the fruit of the light.

It’s the fruit of The Light. All I have to do is bear that fruit. All I have to do is hold out that goodness, righteousness and truth on my branch as I remain in the True Vine. All I have to do is let the Light be the Light. Let it shine. Let it illuminate. Let it reveal. Let it give life. Let it drive away all fruitlessness.

… – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. (Ephesians 5:13b)

Hmmm. I am a light? Why, then, is there darkness around me? I think I may have begun to grow a little dim. I think I may have failed to notice my instructions in this passage.

… but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8b-10)

Live like the light that I am. Find out what pleases the Lord. Get in His Word and understand what it is He has for me to know and to live out. Not just in a general sense, but on a day-to-day basis.

But if I’ve been illuminated and I have become a light, why don’t I automatically illuminate others? What prevents me from automatically shining? It’s that light switch called free will. God gives me a choice as to whether or not I will shine. It’s called obedience.

In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul pens the words of instruction God gave him for the church. In that chapter we get more insight concerning the light we should be and how we can shine.

You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8; 16-24)

We have some direction here as to how we can continue to shine our lights. First of all we have armor to wear. My first thought was that armor is going to block the shining of the light. But the more I considered that armor, the more I thought about the reasons for needing armor, the more I understood that it’s a battle to keep on shining. We are in a battle against darkness and the Enemy would love to dim our light, or at least prevent us from switching it on.

Secondly, we see that we have a brightening switch. Rejoicing, praying and giving thanks makes our light shine brighter and brighter.

Next we see what can cause us to turn off our illumination switch. God tells us specifically, “Do not quench the Spirit.” Our holy light shines through the Spirit living within us. When we have accepted Christ as our Savior we have been given that Light to live within us. There’s nothing we, or anyone else can do to extinguish that Light. But we do have the capacity through our disobedience to prevent it from shining. We can choose to live a disobedient lifestyle that will quench the Spirit… that will turn off the illumination switch.

We also see that through our continued disobedience we build up a vile film that coats us with grime and prevents our light from shining as brightly as it should. That film of sin can only be removed through sanctifying us through and through. It’s like Windex for the soul.

Finally, we get some of the best news ever. We don’t have to do all the work. He will do it. The God of the universe will sanctify us through and through. He has called us. He is faithful. He will do it. His Word promises us.

I am a light. I have a purpose. God provides me with an abundance of goodness, righteousness and truth that will not only sustain me, but also will benefit those He puts in my path everyday. He shines His illuminating goodness through me to help light the way for those who stumble and fall.

Another reason for my failure to shine is that I may have grown a little unconcerned – strike that – considerably unconcerned about those who are in darkness. I forget what it’s like to live in darkness. I forget about the frustration and aggravation that comes from fumbling around without enough light. I forget what it feels like to be blanketed in the heaviness that calls itself darkness. I forget the fear that accompanies it. I forget its capacity to drain every ounce of energy from body and soul. If I were more mindful of those things I would be much more prone to shine like the luminary I’ve been created to be.

Someday I won’t have to battle the frustration and confusion that comes from inadequate light. There will be a day when there will be no more darkness. The One True God of light and life will forever drive it away. The Light of the World will forever reign. Until then, let me ask The God of Brilliant Lights at the beginning of each new day to empower me to shine a little more of His light, please.

Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with Him. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day – a day known only to the Lord – with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name. (Zechariah 14:5b-9)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. (Isaiah 50:10)

(In honor of my dear friend Jennifer, who keeps me ever mindful of the Light, and who shines faithfully on everyone around her.)

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