Monday, December 31, 2012

Recollections & Reflections of Light

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
upon them hath the light shined."
Isaiah 9:2
(KJV)

Things are quiet here this morning.

But, sounds still echo in our home...
hang in the air...
like soft, gentle whispers...
of the joy and comfort....
we felt yesterday....
when our house was full...
and not so quiet.


Banjo, guitars, dulcimers, mandolins, ukuleles,
even a psaltery...
voices rising in song....
laughter..
children running up and down our hall...
sounds of their merriment ringing with every step.

Aromas linger, too.
Broccoli casserole,
baked beans,
pork barbecue,
macaroni salad,
cookies,
cakes,
coffee.....
I catch the slightest waft of them and other good things...
as I walk through the stillness....
fondly recalling the moments.

Most of all, the light lingers.
I bask in its glory that illuminated our hearts...
and home....
throughout this Christmas season.

It was merry...
and bright.

Faith,
family, 
friends.
These fill and warm my heart...
with an unspeakable peace.

I am so blessed to have all three.

As I prayed this morning,
I worshiped...
the God Who is the giver of life...and light...
the God from Whom all blessings flow...
the God Who is kind, and generous, and good.
I thanked Him for bringing us through...
2012.

It has been a different year.
I am so glad we are still here.
For even through the hard times,
the seemingly impossible moments,
the unspeakable pain,
God's light remains,
life remains....
and is worth living.
Filled with new meaning...
and new mercies...
 every morning.

It's always sad to close a chapter.
To say good-bye.
To leave the past of the old year....
behind.

But we must.
 For we can never take hold of the new
while we are still clinging to the old.
We can never fully comprehend the "now"
until we let go of the"then".

We went and did some of our annual
"after-Christmas" shopping today.
We found some great bargains
and left the stores happy.
It made me feel that the season was still upon us...
and made me look forward to next Christmas.
We have made an early start...
and if we continue to pick up little things on sale
throughout the year,
we will be ready to face and spend another peaceful Christmas next year,
if God spares time and our lives...
and permits it to be.
I hope He does.

Even though we have missed Mom so terribly this year,
I can honestly say it has been one of the most peaceful
seasons I have ever experienced.
We enjoyed it so much,
in spite of our tears.
I believe God illuminated our darkness
by sending extra love our way...
from unexpected directions.

He reminded loving hearts...
that this would be a hurtful time for us,
and He worked through them
to convey His compassion.
To shine His light...
upon our death-shadowed path.

He is faithful that way...
to work through human instruments.

We all need to feel loved...
and cared about.
We all need a hug now and then.
We need to hear "I love you" often.

God sent His Son into this darkened world
to speak the language of love....
and light....
to all who crossed His path.

Jesus told His disciples in John 9:5,
"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

As long as He was in the world,
He was.

He was entirely faithful.
Every second of His 33 1/2 years on earth...
He was true to His mission.
He never faltered...
never failed....
never veered off-course.

As the moment neared...
for His departure from earth....
He began to prepare the hearts and minds of His disciples...
letting them know that it would soon be up to them.
Soon the responsibility of "the light"....
would fall into their very human, extremely flawed hands.

Sometimes, I marvel at His plan.
I wonder if I would have chosen the same course.
Human beings?
With broken, checkered, sometimes downright shady pasts?

They had such dark sides.
Could they....
should they....
be entrusted with the light...
His light?
What if they let it go out?
What if they forgot...
all about the things He was teaching them?
What if their bend toward the darkness...
overpowered their desire to carry the torch?
What if they became weary in well doing...
when the going got rough?

He told them it would.
He warned them that they would suffer great persecution,
be forced to appear before authorities,
die painful deaths....
if they obeyed His bidding...
and became His beacons of light.

He never told them their cross would be light to carry.
That life would be easy for them.

Was His?

He was aware of every, single flaw in each one of their characters.
Peter's quick temper and outspoken, impulsive temperament....
his vehement intentions to defend the truth
only to cave at the slightest sign of pressure.
James' and John's strong indignation towards wrong
and their lack of tolerance for those less indignant.
Thomas' tendency to doubt.
Matthew's reputation.
Simon's fervent zeal.

Yet, He left His all-important work...
His mission to shine the light...
in the hands of eleven men...
humans....
mere mortals...
so capable of failure.
So prone to stray.
So flawed....and imperfect.

In Matthew 5:14, He spoke these words to them,
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."

It was their turn.
If they dropped the ball,
the light would be forever extinguished...
never to shine upon the next generation.
If they refused...
to answer God's call....
the flame would go out.

Would you have trusted them?
With such a direly important task?
Would you have handed over the responsibility of the light...
to such as those?

Jesus made the choice to take upon Himself humanity...
to bring to us the light.

Jesus chose humanity to be the vessels...
to keep it burning after He was gone.

They were faithful in their generation.
They answered His call.
They were faithful emitters of His light.

What about now?

I have seen His light...
shining through those who have reached out....
shown love and kindness....
been the light to me...
in my darkness.

Cards,
phone calls,
letters,
emails,
gifts,
kind gestures....
all from sources of light.

His light has shone...
and continues to shine upon my path...
as I determinedly plod forward.

How welcome it is!
To a sad, groping heart!
Just the slightest word...
can illuminate and dispel the densest of gloom.

The torch is handed to us, my friend.
It is now our responsibility.
We must be His light...
to a sin-darkened world.
We must hate the crime,
and love the criminal.

Describing Jesus' entrance into the world,
John said this,
"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."

The darkness did not possess the ability to extinguish Jesus' light.
No matter how dark,
it could not put it out....
could not prevent it...
or its effect.

Our world has become darkened and blighted by evil.
Has it ever been more so?
Hate, cruelty, malice, ill-will...
all of it...
can be trumped by light...
shining from human sources...
flowing from human hearts.

He knows we are flawed.
He realizes we have issues.
He is aware of our pasts...
and how checkered some of them are.
He sees it all, and
guess what?
He has chosen us anyway.
He has entrusted the torch,
placed it in our hands,
to carry on...
in our day....
to be His disciples...
to see the light....
not to blend in...not to conform to the darkness of our surroundings...
but to become beacons and shining reflections...
of that light.

What would happen in 2013 
if each of us made the commitment
to be human emissaries of Jesus' light?

What if we took personal responsibility...
of being the light of the world?
What if the gravity of our commission became real to us?
What if we fully grasped our accountability?

What if when we spot hatred this year,
instead of trying to fight it with more hate,
we choose to trump it...
extinguish its blackness...
 with the light of love?
What if when we detect racism,
we determine to break the cycle...
embrace...
and uplift our brother?
What if when we discern a superior air,
we quench its ugly shadow...
with the light of a humble spirit?
What if we made the choice to become servants...
one to another...
as Jesus' did on the eve of His crucifixion...
as He humbly knelt...
and washed each of His disciples' feet?

The Master became the servant.
Who are we?
To not do likewise?

What if when we saw someone in need,
instead of looking the other way...
pretending it wasn't happening...
we reached out...
and we met that need?
What if when we discerned sadness in a stranger,
we smiled and
said "hello"?
What if we stooped...
to lift another's load?

We will never win anyone by looking down our noses...
or making them feel "less than".

This is not Jesus' way.
Are we His followers?

The light is in our hands.
What will we do with it?

No matter how strong the darkness,
it will never be more powerful than His light.

You are the light of the world, my friend.
So am I.
We have seen His light.
It has illuminated our darkness.
Now, it is our job to let it shine...
through us in the new year....
as never before.
To make a difference.
To be Jesus...
to all....
even those...
especially those....
who are different from us.

Enjoy His light...
bask in its glow...
be filled with its warmth...
then pass it on.
Let it shine.

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