This morning I am sitting on my couch looking out my picture window onto a great frozen landscape. There is a cold stillness in the air that would quickly bite my skin if I should step out onto our deck.
It is the stillness prior to sunrise. Because I live in a house with two teenagers, and a husband who awakens early only on demand, there is quiet in my world.
Sunrises may be my favorite thing about living out in the country on this farm. We have a big window that faces to the east, with a spectacular view of the horizon. It’s been a rare occasion lately that I slow down enough to really take in a sunrise.
I want to scold myself for being so consumed, anxious, and fretful lately that I have been choosing to miss out on moments like these.
I am enamored by the beauty of sunrises. There is the unique combination of how they seem to happen both so slowly and so quickly at the same time. There is so much light that spills over the horizon prior to the sun itself peaking over and making itself fully visible.
This morning in the bitter cold, with drifts of snow covering the landscape, the colors of blue, orange, and pink seem extra vibrant. I’m not certain if they are in fact brighter, or if I have just slowed myself long enough to savor the richness of their beauty.
In my head I heard this verse, “I am the light of the world.”
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
‘I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.'”
John 8:12 (ESV)
It occurred to me that I have not stopped to really ponder the meaning of this verse. As I sit here, staring out my window, I really started to contemplate what it would mean to light the world.
Last night it was dark, terribly cold and blustery. It is Minnesota at the end of December. I had attempted to look out into the darkness by using the outdoor light upon our deck. Relative to the power of this mornings pre-sunrise light, the span of the reach of my little house light was essential nothing. In a distance which could be measured in yards the light quickly faded into darkness.
This morning the sun has not yet capped the horizon making a full appearance for the day, and the distance by which my eyes can see has been expanded to the scope of miles. The darkness has been cast out in nearly every direction.
How much more powerful is the sun than my little light? So much greater that in comparison my little house light is essentially nothing.
And yet, just a little over an hour ago, I awoke to a deep darkness. Even our sun, as bright and vibrant as it is, only shines on a portion of our world at any given time. Just a few hours plane ride away the world is yet engulfed in the darkness of night.
In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”
Dear reader, let’s just sit and chew on that idea for a moment. What does it mean to be the light of the world?
I have to admit that many times I have read that verse. I think I’ve even seen it on the side of cheap flashlights given to kids at church activities. I wonder if God chuckles and shakes His head at the silly things we do, or if His heart aches because we are missing out on so much more.
Just imagine with me for a moment what it would be like to have our entire world filled with light at the same moment in time. How awesomely incredible would that be? What a complete breaking of everything we have believed or have been taught up to this point in our lives…on one side of the earth is day with the light of the sun and the other side is night covered in darkness where the sun can not reach because we are turned away.
Still as I write this the sun has not yet appeared in fullness over the horizon line, but brighter and brighter it is become as the official sunrise draws near.
What about the Son rise? Light of the whole world. The WHOLE world! All sides, all corners, all the places people are found far and wide. Massive metropolitan areas, to the rural hillsides, to the middle of the desert places. Jesus is the light of the world.
The great I AM. Don’t you just love when the Lord makes the bold, confident, perfect declaration. There’s no doubting or wondering or confusion. It’s so straightforward that it practically sweeps us off our feet.
Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” He did not say, I might be, I will be, if you give me the chance I can, I could be if. No. He clearly said, “I am the light of the world.”
Take a moment with me to just stretch our limited imaginations for a moment to the point where we could picture what it would be like for our whole world to experience light at the same time.
A light of that magnitude and reach would be like my comparison of my house light to the sun. It would have to be that dramatic of a difference. We have seen the images from NASA, of the view from space. The light of our sun does not reach around the world. Just like the light from my house is met eventually with a line of darkness, so too is the light of the sun eventually met with a line of darkness.
But not Jesus. His light has the power and magnitude to wrap the whole world in light.
In Revelation 21:23-24 (NIV),
“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
The nations will walk by its light,
and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”
Have you ever sat back and pondered what it would be like to not need the sun or the moon?
Until this morning, I really have not spent time contemplating it. I have definitely had a few science lessons about how life can not survive on planet without the sun. We need it. The heat, the energy, the fuel, the food, our existence seems so dependent upon it.
That science lesson is all based upon the notion of what would happen if what we have now, as we know it now, went away. This is what it would look like if there was a subtraction from the picture.
But, what if we are given something so great we do not need the sun any longer. How amazing and incredible would that be. Not talking in terms of subtraction, but in terms of exponential multiplication.
Jesus says, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to walk in darkness. I want to be in that light. The fullness of light. I want to see that sun up over the horizon so that the night and all it holds will fade away.
While I can only imagine what it would be like for our whole world to experience light at the same time, it seems like the absolutely appropriate time to declare, “that would be AWESOME!” Certainly something that would humbly leave me in awe.
Live it Out
As we come to the close of the year, set aside some time to pause and reflect on the words of Scripture, treasure them in your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a revelation that you can close one year upon and begin another with.
Allow the light to shine upon those fears, worries, doubts, and insecurities you have – both about where you have been and where you are looking forward to going.
As I make these suggestions to you, know that I am also heeding them myself. The year I am about to close out has been hard, it has had heartbreak, there have been big challenges, there are many loose ends unmet and untied as the calendar pages turn.
I am not where I would like to be at all, physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, or relationally. At the beginning of last year, I chose the word REDEMPTION to be my word of the year. In hind sight, it seems like FALLING SHORT, would have been a more appropriate phrase. That is certainly what it feels like to me.
In some ways my heart cries out, “Wait!” If I could just have a little bit more time, then I could get this mess I am turned around. I could end the year on a better note than such a bitter note.
It is in those tears and anguish of heart that I hear, “my dearest Julie girl, that is what redemption is all about. Bring the full extent of your brokenness and short comings to Me, in every single area of your life. If you want to experience redemption, you have to see the deep defects, the holes that need to be offset. You may come empty and broken, but you will be made whole, made full, by the abundance of My love. That is what is needed to experience a great redemption.”
As this year comes to a close, and the pages fade to memory, I offer this prayer for us.
Pray Through It
Beloved Lord, please bring us into the fullness of Your light, even if we have to squint our eyes and take time of adjustment. Lord, the lights we come up with on our own are so limited. We rely and depend upon them, and take for granted that there may be better out there for us.
We can get so stuck on the subtraction that seems to be occurring in our lives, or worse worrying about potential subtractions that we miss out on experiencing Your divine exponential multiplication. So Lord, please bring Your light into our lives that we may see better, clearer, and with a wider scope of vision. Bring us to a new place of awe for Your love and goodness.
Lord, as another year closes, may we know that all of our faults, short comings, and mistakes are covered by the power of Your redemption. Amidst the messes of the year, there are beautiful blessings and messages of hope that You send to us in grace and love.
In the redemptive name of Jesus, the light of the world, amen.