Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Light of the World

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."(Matthew 5:14-16, ESV)


This past weekend we got our Christmas tree and decked out our home with all of the trimmings. After it was decorated, I looked around my house and realized that Christmas decorating is all about having the right lights. Steady lights, flashing lights, flickering candle lights, and even colored spotlights can bring such beauty to our homes, yards, parks, and churches during the Christmas season. Lights are fun and beautiful to look at.  Just looking at lights can boost our spirits, elicit strong feelings, or bring back fond memories.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. What an amazing thing to call us.  We are lights. Not just any lights, but the light of the world. Wow!

If you watch a light, a Christmas bulb, or even a candle, you will see this small object that radiates an energy and with that energy, it changes the way that you see everything around it. If the light is white, you can see everything in its glow clearly. If it is a colored light, you will see the things around it with a festive hue. A flickering candlelight will bring an ambiance to the space around it that becomes bright and then dark as the flame flickers.

When I ponder the Christmas season ahead, it is hard for me to think of being any sort of a light, much less "the light of the world." After ten years of total care for my medically fragile son, I am often tired. Being a light sounds overwhelming. I feel way too exhausted to share my light (or the small amounts of energy that I do have) with anyone. How can God be talking to me about being "the light of the world."

The Christmas season brings sensory overloads, mixed up schedules, cold and flu exposures, visits to homes that aren’t disability friendly, unwanted comments, and so many other difficult things to my life. Many holiday traditions magnify how different my family is from others and with that comes so much sadness in my heart.

My other children are school-aged and they are so easy to take to holiday events and gatherings. They are trustworthy in social situations and can mostly fend for themselves so when we go places I can enjoy myself. When we take Liam along, I am usually sweating and stressed, begging God for a very good WiFi signal so that he can calm his anxiety by scrolling through his videos. In addition to that, I am worried about hydration, dignified diaper changing spaces, and general wheelchair accessibility. On top of that, I am often fielding questions from friends, relatives, and strangers who are curious about Liam. So how on earth am I supposed to survive, much less be "the light of the world"?

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

On that first Christmas Eve so long ago, God sent his very own Son to earth as a baby. Because of that perfect baby, his perfect life, his death on the cross, and his resurrection, I can go to heaven someday. So can you! This gift is such a joy that I cannot help but radiate its light — even in the difficulties that this season brings.The profound nature of this gift along with the Holy Spirit in my heart, enables me to be that light to the world. When I do all of the hard things that this special-needs life brings, I can do them with a loving attitude. It is Jesus IN me that makes me the light of the world. Jesus living in my heart radiates HIS light and love into the world.

My son’s disabilities are visible and wherever we go people notice us. As they watch us, I pray that the Holy Spirit would work in me so others can see Jesus’ love. When people see us being gracious and hopeful in the face of circumstances that are difficult, they will see our Jesus shining through. This certainly doesn’t mean that we are smiling and happy all the time. Even when things are hard and we feel disappointed and overwhelmed, we pray that God would help us to keep our eternal perspective. Psalm 34:18 (NIV) tells us "
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." We are the lights of the world when we lean on our God. Even in our brokenness, our reactions share our Savior. Our God has won the victory! Through him, we are able to be "the light of the world."

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, In you there is no darkness at all. Please shine in my heart so that others will see your light. Take away my weary and bitter feelings and replace them with gratitude and joy in the promise of heaven. In your name, Amen.

~ Wendy Heyn

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