If you ask pretty much anyone who knows me well, they will tell you that I have always liked lights – I love Christmas lights, tiki torches, party lights in trees and even once, when I was in a childhood beauty pageant, I asked my mom to make sure my dress had lights on it! To me, lights soften and transform ordinary things into sparkling, brighter, more magical versions of themselves.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
That verse was on my mind recently as I was doing my devotional study on changing my attitude – I sing “This Little Light of Mine” to baby girl all the time and it’s a jaunty little tune that conjures up images of a happy little candle merrily skipping through a charmed life. But what does it really mean to “let our light shine”?
I recently bought a cheap string of lights to add to my wall décor in my living room – nothing makes your ordinary wall seem more special than a little string of lights! As I was pondering letting our light shine in this world, I got to thinking of the differences between looking at my lights in the daylight, and in the dark.
During the day, when sunlight streams in through the windows, I don’t usually have the lights on because as you can see, you can hardly tell that they are on at all! They are there, but they are not overwhelming in their brightness. You are able to focus on the distractions of the décor on the wall, and they don’t significantly add to the light of the room or make a huge impact.
At night, however, when it is pitch black out, what a difference! The lights are so much more noticeable, and in fact, you can’t see anything else but the lights and their overwhelming brightness. You can see shadowy shapes of the decorations on the wall, but your eye is drawn to the lights and you can’t focus on anything else.
When our lives are going well and we appear blessed, at ease, and our decisions are minor, even if we point to Jesus and let His light shine in our lives, it is not overwhelmingly noticeable. We may even take the credit for things going so well and serve as a distraction from the true light. But when we, in the times of despair, grief, and uncertainty, point unflinchingly to the bright light of Jesus, He shines so much brighter. Jesus is the only thing people can see and should be the only focus in the darkness, as well as in the light. When we focus only on Him, we aren’t distracted by the things around us in the darkness, and our witness becomes that much stronger as we hold onto, and project, our faith in the hope of Jesus even in the darkest situations and the most hopeless looking circumstances.
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.'” (John 8:12 )
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”