The Light in us

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark” (John 12:46).

This is the promise to those who follow Jesus. I am trusting His word on this that He’ll keep me in His kingdom of light.

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. (Ephesians 5:8-9)

This is the hope we have—that the Light we follow leads us to truth and life and right living. I am trusting this too.

As a result of following Jesus, we also have a treasure entrusted to us.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”

But He also says to His disciples of all ages, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

As children of God, His Spirit burns within us.

What? In this jar of clay? His Spirit here, in my cracked and broken and misshapen life? Why would He choose me to bear His light?

On my own, I’m pretty worthless when it comes to showing God’s goodness to the world. What about you?

So this is also a part of our hope: That God’s light and good news shine through our cracked and broken lives, “showing others the goodness of God” (1 Peter 2:9).

I am not the person I used to be, and I hope that those who know this know that it is only because of God’s power that I have a new life.

This is what I desire, Father—that Your light shines through my life.

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

Light a lamp for me, Lord, my God!
Light up my darkness!
(from Psalm 18:28)

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MORE to ponder: Psalm 18:28; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 36:7-9; Psalm 56:13; Psalm 80:3; Isaiah 9:1, 2; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:22; Matthew 4:16; Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 1:78-79; Luke 2:32; John 1:4-5, 9; John 3:18-21; John 8:12; John 9:5; John 10:10; John 12:35-36, 44-46; John 12:50; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7; Ephesians 5:8-9; Colossians 1:13-14; Philippians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 2 Peter 1:19; 1 John 5:20

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The great light of Good News

I wanted to quit.

Time and time again, I’ve thought about just quietly melting away into the blogging crowd and disappearing and abandoning this huge project. I’ve got all kinds of reasons. Logical, justifiable reasons. And many that are not so.

But here I sit, on a clear morning in Maine, watching the sun slip up from the silver, shimmering sea into a pale blue sky feathered with a few clouds. A woman who walked across the Cribstone Bridge with her camera comes up the stairs and walks by me on her way back to her room.

“Good morning. It doesn’t get much better than this,” she  says.

No, it doesn’t.

And that is why I have not quit writing.

The dew is everywhere this morning. On my chair. My pants are soaked.

One pesky mosquito keeps buzzing around my ears.

But it doesn’t get much better than this.

This is why, in spite of the pesky mosquito buzzing of I want to quit, I must keep writing. Because what you and I know, brother and sister, is that there is good news: there is a great light for the darkness of this world.

There is hope for all the blackness.

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
(2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

My very fragile clay has entertained thoughts of giving up.

But I can’t.

Because in every one of us children of God there is hope alive that the world in darkness needs to hear about.

I can’t quit. You can’t quit.

Because God has said, “Let there be light.”

We know it. So many others long to know it.

And it just doesn’t get any better than this.

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

Light a lamp for me, Lord, my God!
Light up my darkness!
(from Psalm 18:28)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The saving light of truth

My high school sociology teacher used to talk about the brick wall. “You can tell me there’s a door there. Everyone can say there’s a door there. And I can believe it. But if I try to walk through it…”

And there’s my toad story. Coming home one very dark night, I walked cautiously down the sidewalk. The outside light was not on, and the distance between the car and my door was in deep shadow. I kept thinking about the big fat toad I occasionally saw hopping among the hostas lining the walk.

Then I stepped on something large and somewhat squishy. Oh no, no, no! Oh, disgusting! I had squashed that toad.

Inside, I switched on my porch light and saw one of my grandson’s soft balls lying on the sidewalk.

On a much more serious note, my church denomination is being shredded right now by the debate on same-sex marriage. Our Supreme Court has made a “ruling.” (A strange and presumptuous word to use for human thinking!) I believe, as Dr. Alveda King wrote, that “God will have the final word about marriage.”

Three illustrations that help me understand how important it is to know the truth. I want to live in alignment with truth. Life is so much better when I do.

But that’s such a big, impossible-to-grasp question: what is truth?

My mind translates it as this: How do I see? How do I banish the darkness that blinds me and see clearly?

Of course we know that perfect vision will come only in some future day.

But for now, a light shines for us through the darkness.

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark” (John 12:46).

You can’t miss it throughout the Bible. David wrote in his songs that we only see through the light God gives. Voices of the prophets foretold of a light that was coming for all of humanity.

And then the Light did come in flesh and blood. Days after His birth, Simeon recognized that this was the one who had come as “a light to reveal God to the nations.” (see Luke 2:32)

As a grown man, this Light would say that all His words came from God; He said nothing except what God told Him to say.

He is the one who makes plain to us who God is and what God has to say. He is the one who brings the light from heaven to enable us to see.

We see who we really are.
We see why we are what we are.
We see who God is.
We see our relationship to Him and that He wants everyone to come back to Him.
We see what we are meant to be and the best way to live and the plans He has for the future…

It’s an ongoing quest of the human race—to find out what the true picture really looks like. Throughout the ages, we have wondered, What is the truth?

God’s mercy sent light from heaven to shine upon us and show us the road to truth.

As long as we’re in this world, we struggle with being able to see through the darkness, but we have a Light showing the way.

The only place my heart and mind have found rest and peace is when I’m following that Light.

So I’m putting my trust — my hope — in the Light God sent from heaven.

 

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

Light a lamp for me, Lord, my God!
Light up my darkness!
(from Psalm 18:28)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Light that brings life

In the blackness of that cavern, I tried to imagine what would happen if the light switch failed. Would we be able to grope our way out of the darkness? Would we lose each other along the way?

God did another mighty act to scatter darkness when He sent His Son to earth to be a light for us.

A man, John, was sent ahead to prepare people for the coming light. His message was that “the one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9).

John declared that this light would bring life to everyone. The psalmist wrote often about God’s life-giving light. Light and life go hand-in-hand. In the physical world, we know that light is essential to life and growth. In the spiritual realm, Jesus brings the light that gives life. “If you follow me,” He said, “you won’t have to walk in the darkness because you’ll have the light that leads to life” (see John 8:12).

The life I now live is given by His light. I cannot imagine what my short time on earth would be like without that light. I know I would still be in slavery. I would be very, very afraid of God and His judgment day. All of the things we’ve been pondering this year — all those promises to His children — I would be without. My sojourn on this earth would have no guidance, no strength, no presence of God, no assurance of His help and care, and absolutely no hope for the future.

Life would be blacker than the blackness in that cavern.

Child of God, take a few minutes today and try to imagine what your life would be like without the light and new life Christ brought to you.

And then take a few minutes more to simply dance in that new light and life.

 

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

Light a lamp for me, Lord, my God!
Light up my darkness!
(from Psalm 18:28)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Our only hope in darkness

Deep in a Kentucky cavern, I felt darkness. Physically felt it. The tour guide flipped a switch and within seconds the complete darkness pressed on my skin and crept into my lungs. If I even moved a finger, I thought, I might lose my balance and be completely swallowed up by that thing that was darkness. I was caught, afraid to move and almost unable to breathe.

My only hope was that the tour guide would soon flip the switch again … and it would work … and bring light back to the cave.

We don’t have to be deep in the earth to experience terrible darkness. Our spirits meet darkness in valleys of grief, in the evil that stalks this earth, in the dark corners that still remain within ourselves and our lives.

What hope do the children of God have? Our hope is that our God brings light to our darkness.

Genesis begins with God saying, “Let there be light” and separating the light from the darkness. Revelation ends with the promise that the servants of God are destined to live a life with absolutely no darkness, no need ever for lamps or even the sun, “for the Lord God will shine on them.”

And in between Genesis and Revelation, the message is constant: God is the light for our darkness.

“God is light,” the apostle John wrote—and remember, He had privileged glimpses into the heavenly realm—“and there is no darkness in him at all.” (1 John 1:5)

Hear some of the voices in the Old Testament:

Psalm 36:9 says, “You are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.”

Another song, Psalm 56, tells the story of every child of God: “You’ve rescued me from death, so now I walk in your presence, in your life-giving light.”

Isaiah’s advice: “If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.” (Isaiah 50:10)

And a proverb of the wise King Solomon: Only if God’s face “shines” on us do we have any hope. (see Proverbs 80:3)

This is our hope. Our ONLY hope. God, who initially parted the darkness with light, can bring light to our darkness.

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

Light a lamp for me, Lord, my God!
Light up my darkness!
(from Psalm 18:28)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)