*This post is written for the Beloved Brews link-up, hosted by the author of Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray. Her blog, Faith Barista truly is the equivalent to a day at the spa for your soul. She will encourage you to rest in Jesus and to live as the beloved. I’m glad that I’ve added her to my reading list of women whose words I savor on a regular basis. Make the virtual travel to her website and enjoy some soul-rest as you read her peaceful posts. Side note: I so admire peaceful people. “Calm” seems to be a lovely characteristic to behold. I don’t anticipate ever knowing this character quality first-hand. (That was a joke…you can laugh, friends.)*
Our big boy used to sing the words from his car seat. In the rearview mirror, I could see him with his pale hair spiked to the middle, eyes closed, as if he really could grasp what it is to fully worship.
“Learning to be the light. Woa-oh! Woah-oh-oh! Learning to be the light!”
Now, he’s grown into a “big boy” who still claims that song by New World Son to be his very favorite. I’m sure he values the catchy lyrics and singable tune, but my heart treasures the meaning in a way that he cannot fully comprehend.
Yep. We’re all just learning to be the light. We know it is what was commanded of us, so we keep striving to live it. Yet, we know that we can strive and we should–to be light in a dark world, but we know the truth is that we’re all sinners who cannot achieve perfection and our lights will always shine a bit dimmer than they should on this Earth. We’re never going to get it quite right, this side of Heaven.
Every minute of this pursuit to shine brightly is worth lighting if we can see: one room, one workplace, one friend, one child, or one heart burn brighter because of Jesus. If anyone comes to know Jesus because we have shown His love through our life, then we are the ones who have truly lived. Every time we choose to spread joy to others instead of choosing our own pursuit of rush, worry, and achieve, we choose to show the love of Jesus. In the most normal of places, the places that we consider ourselves to be insignificant: the grocery store, the drive-through, the coffee shop, the carpool; those are the places that we are meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can choose to show His love on Sunday morning, but if we hide our light under a bushel for six days, we miss the mark. When we carry on as if life is about us without living as light, we completely forget our commandment and we live without realizing our true purpose.
“No one lights a lamp and puts in under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.” ~Matthew 5:15 HCSB
Then there are those moments where we really grasp it. We live as Jesus called us to live, sometimes. Our light shines most radiantly when we give grace, give of ourselves, and forgive. Our light sparks a true fire when we speak edifying words that uplift the hearts around us, not just the hearts of our friends or the hearts living under our own roof, or the hearts that gather under the same steeple. No, no. That isn’t the full calling of the children of light. Our light sparks a true fire that radiates the love of Jesus when we choose to lift up every heart we encounter. Jesus did and so should we. That is when we truly make a path for others to see the beauty of our Savior. That is when we let every heart prepare Him room. We know it, but we have a tendency to forget it: we are meant to live in a way that facilitates a love for Jesus.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” ~Ephesians 5:8 HCSB
Lives that overflow with the fruits of the Spirit are the lives that warm others with sparks of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Oh, how I am working on the peace and the self-control. Some days, I desperately need to wear a bit of duct tape across my lips. I wear my emotions on my sleeve…more like my face and lips. The upside? No one ever says I’m ingenuine or putting on a front. So…there’s that perk. The downside is a bit ugly though. The downside means that sometimes my raw emotions spew out of my heart, out of my lips, and extinguish my sparkle all together with hurtful words from a heart that wasn’t quite as it should have been. My light doesn’t shine so brightly when my heart hurts. Why do I share this ugly truth about my worst characteristic on my worst days? I’d rather not share and I’d rather you think of me as a ray of sunshine, but the authentic reality is that our lights can only shine at their fullest strength when our hearts are a bit less focused on ugliness. Only Jesus can heal the hurt in our hearts and it is imperative that we live in a constant state of surrendering our hearts to that refining, sanctifying process through repentance and in trusting Jesus with the ugly junk that hurts. The state of our hearts can fuel or extinguish our lights completely. I know that I am prone to hurt feelings and ugly emotions, as a sensitive personality type. Most importantly, I know how I have had to work on training my heart to forgive quickly and the consequences of holding onto the ugly heart-messes. If we ever want to live as light, we have to know and protect the state of our hearts or the flesh will win.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~Proverbs 4:23 NIV
So, I am declaring it…rather publicly, I suppose. This year, I am doing better. I don’t have a zillion resolutions. I have some clear goals in my mind, one of which was to return to the choir loft in a timely manner, before the end of “shaking-hands-time,” rather than chatting and hugging a bit too long with every person in the congregation and then making a spectacle as I return back to the choir loft. That’s kind of embarrassing. Three January Sundays are in the books, I already failed that goal, and have given it up for good. Forever. (I can’t do it. I love to talk to people and deep down, I choose fellowship over good timing, I suppose. Whatev.) I cant keep every resolution, but I am choosing to live by this one word in 2015: light.
That’s it. That’s the way I am revamping myself in 2015. I’d like to think that this has been a purpose in my heart for a few decades, now. To some extent, that’s pretty much what I was going for all along. This year, however, I am going to be more intentional. I want to miss less opportunities, harbor less hurt, clear the ugliness out of my heart quicker, to make more room for Jesus. I want a heart that prepares Him room in every circumstance, of every day. Every day we have is a gift. I don’t want to mis-spend any of my gifted days as anything less than a bright light, illuminating a dark world, and shining a path toward Jesus. I’m learning to be the light.
My big guy always sings the chorus of his favorite song, but pauses on the verses, because verses can be full of big words. The verses with the big words speak big truths to my heart.
When a heart is cold as ice,
you can’t melt it with advice.
No one wants to listen to
a list of things they shouldn’t do.
So I build a city on a hill,
and I light a candle on the sill,
knowing You’ll be always knocking at the door.
Oh God, I just want to love on everyone.
All I have is Yours to give, so let the people come!
For me, 2015 will be different. This will be a year focused on living as light. Won’t you join me? Our job, as the body of Christ, is to carry light into all places. So, to all grocery stores, to all workplaces, to all homes, to all cities, to all nations: let us carry the light of Jesus and illuminate this world for the One True King. Wherever you go, in the most ordinary or far off places, be a light. Choose to love as Jesus loves and you will make every dark place a little bit brighter, as people are welcomed and graced with the love of a Savior who can heal the darkness.
I can’t live up to my resolution of greeting everyone that I’d like to greet in that one instrumental verse of welcoming time. Nope, it just isn’t working out. (Anyone know how I can contact the Minister of Music about such things? …just kidding! He’s my husband…I long ago filed that concern and his purpose was a terrific one.) I’ll just remain an epic failure of hand-shaking time. Oh well.
I can, however, learn to be a little bit shinier with a love that illuminates reflecting the love of Jesus. In everything I do, every word I speak, every post I type, and wherever God leads this year–I am choosing to focus on living as light so that others can know His unmatchable love.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” ~Matthew 5:14
Shine on, friends!