I have a penchant for lanterns. I grew up in a part of Africa where electricity was not a common commodity and we were reliant on candles and lanterns to help provide light in the evenings. As a little girl, needing to find my way in the dark at night or simply as a means of shedding light across my room, as I drifted off to sleep, up on my bed side table stood a small milk glass lantern which I came to love. It bought comfort; it helped me see what was there but also what was not there and if I woke, it would remind me that I was at home, with my parents in the next room, and not at school far away from comfort.
Here in Melbourne, as we head into a new term, daylight saving has shifted and the days are getting shorter, the sun is seeking shelter behind the clouds, the Autumn trees are responding to the cooler air and withdrawing their kindness to the leaves, readying themselves for the chill of a dark winter. It is getting darker. The darkness can press in on the heart and make us feel that we too, are like autumn trees and must withdraw from the darkness and find light and warmth away from the shadows and stay away until a better day when the sun chooses to come back and warm up the earth. But we are not Autumn trees effected by the weather, the climate and the season. We are trees that never need fear the winter cold and dank darkness of a difficult season because we have the ‘son’ within.
‘Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to BE LIGHT, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—SHINE! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)’
Jesus looks me in the eyes and speaks purpose, perspective and destiny and instruction over me today with these words. BE LIGHT! Jesus speaks to my identity. He takes his own identity and places it on me. Jesus (the light of the world), turns to me and reminds me of who I am…light. He reminds me of where he has placed me. He is not ashamed of who I am. He is not afraid of what the darkness will do to me. He knows as the light of the world, he is in me and he is strong enough to win over the darkness which means darkness and dark seasons need the light of the world and he isn’t asking me to consider being the light. He is reminding me of my identity that I am light. I was not created to be impacted by darkness and shadows and evil. Over the coming weeks I want to explore my identity as ‘light’ and the responsibility which flows out of who I am. Everything I do and say and am flows out of who I believe I am. If Jesus says I am light..do I argue with him or obey him? Am I responding to this identity or to another identity? The light of the world has given me his identity and his name and goes on, to provide me with the energy and the resources to be what he has called me. We have no reason to fear darkness when we know who we are and what we have within.
What does it mean to BE LIGHT?
What are the things that would seek to sabotage my ability to shine?
What is the bucket or bushel that I or others use to hide my light?
What is the lamp stand God has placed me on?
I am not light on a platform preaching. (Although that can help disperse darkness). I am light on a platform for my daily life and my interactions with people and the world I live in. My reaction to the darkness that pervades our community and our culture is a response to my identity and calling. Do I really understand the power of being called light by THE LIGHT. What does this mandate, calling and name require of me today and how does it align with my being a visionary and the vision I have of my life and my future. Is being light a part of my personal vision. Is where I am standing where I am meant to be. Just because I am on a lamp-stand doesn’t mean the light is ON. This lit was never meant to have a switch.
There are so many ways darkness wins and one is simply that I pull away from darkness instead of shining in the midst of it.
I grew up afraid of darkness…Not the darkness that comes from the sun disappearing or the clouds that cover the moon. But the darkness of evil, the darkness of uncertainty and insecurity and failure. I was never meant to be afraid or intimidated by darkness. I grew up seeking to find light and shine in the midst of light and seeking comfort from the light that others provide instead of realising I am light and that light goes with me wherever I am because He is light and calls me light. I am the sunshine in someone’s winter. I am the light in someone’s dark season. I bring with me the joy, the hope, the peace, the love, the grace, the resource, the faiths nd disperse the darkness. It is generosity and oneness and my proximity to darkness that will disperse it. It is not about embracing shadows and becoming dark.
When God said in the beginning ‘Let there BE LIGHT’ did he see me in the future and know that he was not just talking about physical light and day and night?
Wherever God has placed me today is my lamp-stand, my hill, my responsibility. This name is not just about being named and identified as a light (noun) but being light (verb) ….shining …actually dispersing and winning over darkness. I can choose to be switched on or off. If Jesus is giving me an instruction, then he is engaging my will, my yes, my can, my power to choose. He suggests here that I have the choice to be light or not; to be intentional or not, to forget my identity. Can my shine be lost or diminished? Oh that I would be awake, aware, and switched on when someone needs my light, to shed light across their rooms, to bear light on their path, to bring comfort and help others see what is there and what is not there, to expose things hidden or lost in darkness and be light.
Let there be light! BE LIGHT! SHINE!