God With Us
It’s Christmas time. If you’re anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with this holiday season for a number of reasons. However, there is one thing that I love to do and that is to look at all the Christmas lights. It has been a long-held tradition that on Christmas Eve, we drive around several different neighborhoods just to see all the light displays. It’s the time of year where you see some of the greatest light displays. In fact, you might have that one neighbor who tries to outdo everyone else on the street. I just saw on the news about a community in Ohio has every house in the cul-de-sac decorated with hundreds of Christmas lights. The people of Adrian, Michigan just set a world record by lighting 676 Christmas trees and making it into a maze. I also just read the other day about someone spending over $50,000 on Christmas lights, music, and accessories all so he could have his fifteen minutes of social media fame.
No doubt that all of these decorations and lights make the season that much more magical and festive, but at what cost? Soon it’ll be over. Soon we’ll be packing up our Christmas lights to only put them safely into storage containers and stuff them into the dark corners of our attics, closets, or garages and wait another year before we put them back up again. And we all know that it can’t be duplicated next year. Next year has to be bigger and better than the year before.
You know, it’s natural instinct that when you walk into a dark room, you turn on a light. It has been argued that the light bulb is one of the top 10 greatest inventions of all time. It has allowed us to illuminate the darkness for over 150 years! But there was a light even greater than this and was in existence long before the light bulb ever existed. There is a Light that came not only to save us, but also to show us how to shine our light in a dark world. God sent the most expensive and brightest light to this world: Jesus. I can imagine what it was like for God’s people to go through 400 years of silence. It was the original Dark Age and they too must have wondered if God had forgotten about them. And just when all hope seemed to be lost, we have the birth of Jesus, Immanuel, “God With Us” and John 3:9 says “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world.”
A Light was born in the middle of the darkness. Jesus himself said in John 8, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” He is the reason why we celebrate this season. It’s no argument that we live in a broken and dark world. It’s a world that desperately needs to be exposed to the light; not just any light, but the Light of Christ.
The thing I love the most about light is that it illuminates the darkness. We are approaching the darkest day of the year: December 22nd. It’s the day in which we have the shortest amount of light that comes from the sun. While we look at this day as the darkest of the year, there still is hope in that darkness. There’s hope that the days are going to start getting longer. There’s hope in knowing that it can’t stay dark forever. The darkness of night reminds us of the promise of light in the morning.
Let me be honest. It’s been a season of struggle for me. It seems that darkness abounds, and while there maybe be little glimpses, it’s not long for the darkness to overtake me again. So, as I usually do when I find myself in a spiritual struggle, I escaped to the mountainside in which I could overlook the city and see it defined by its light. The other noticeable thing were the areas of complete darkness. As I sat in my car and watched the lights glisten in the distance, I was reminded that even in the midst of the darkness, there is still light.
Maybe this is your first holiday season far away from home or missing a loved one for the first time. Maybe, you too, are going through a season of struggle and are fighting to see the light in the midst of your darkness. If that’s you be reminded of John 1:5 “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The funny thing about light is no matter how much darkness is in the room, a light that is introduced to it will automatically be visible. No matter how much darkness seemed to surround the city, you could still see pockets of light.
Remember those Israelites who were left for 400 years in darkness? I bet that even those who were surrounded by darkness and wondering if God would ever return to them still shown their light and kept talking about a Hope that was coming. That’s you and me. Even if we feel like you’re surrounded by darkness or struggling this season, we still have a light that needs to be put on display.
You see, you and I have a light that can never be put out, regardless of the battles we face. We have a light that our city, our community, our family needs and unlike Christmas lights that are only to be put up during the short holiday season, this light is appropriate for all seasons. The light that Christ has placed inside of all those who believe is not meant to be kept to ourselves, but we are called to go and illuminate the deepest, darkest parts of our communities and our cities. God is not sending someone to turn the light on, He’s sending us to be the light so that He can shine through us; not just for this season, but a light for every day.
So as you finish up your final days of shopping amidst the hustle and bustle of traffic and backed-up checkout lines, putting up those last minute decorations, wrapping up those last few gifts, and cooking that Christmas dinner, may you be reminded of the light that was placed inside of you to shine for all those around you to see. I promise, that even in your darkest days, it’ll be the brightest light of the season.
Matthew 5:15-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it give light to everyone the house.“