We are to be lights, shining in a dark world. (Ephesians 5:8) But, as Bob Goff reminded me in one of his books, we cannot be spotlights. We’re not to be shining in people’s eyes so they can’t see us or where they are going. We are supposed to be like streetlights, guiding people in the darkness. Or full wood stoves that glow with warmth and coziness. If our lives are full of light and goodness, the light shines out of us without us even trying. (Matthew 6:22) Sometimes, shining a light on the path will illuminate our mistakes, but admitting we make mistakes makes us more approachable and reminds us we’re all in this together. We also have to remember not to shine the light on us. We’re not in this for our glory but God’s. The light shines out of us and points to Him. (Matthew 5:16)
This got me thinking about different kinds of lights. What kind of light are you? When I was younger I loved when my dad put up our outdoor Christmas lights every year because they were bright in my room. I could sleep so much better because they were there, warm and reminding me that Christmas was coming. I also knew my dad was still awake because he only turned them off when he went to bed. It was very comforting.
Think of the comforting lights in your life. We all need those. When the lights go out, sometimes even a little candle can be the most precious thing. In your darkest moments, a friend sitting by your side not even saying a word, can make a huge difference in your life. It’s just a little light but so comforting.
Sometimes how we carry our lights can cause problems. They can cause us to stumble. I remember walking through a cave once and our guide told us that miners who carried a regular lantern sometimes fell into deep holes because they could not see the path right in front of them since the bottom of the lantern created a dark spot on the ground. Also, if you have carried a lantern, you have learned to carry it above your head so you can see without being blinded by it. Pointing a flashlight in someone’s face will blind them, but pointing it on the ground in front of them will help both of you.
However, most often we need much brighter lights to point us in the right direction. Lighthouses are symbols that are used often among Christians. According to Britannica.com, lighthouses “serve as an aid to maritime coastal navigation, warning mariners of hazards, establishing their position, and guiding them to their destinations.” That’s a pretty good definition of what we are to be doing as Christ’s Church. Unfortunately, too often we focus on one of those purposes and forget about the others. Lighthouses do not point out specific rocks or shallow points. They do not shine their one-million-candle-power beams on all the faults of the ship. They guide, caution, and tell the ships exactly where they are so they can get their bearings. They also do not illuminate themselves.
When we are shining our lights properly, we are a beacon of hope and love pointing to the God of grace and mercy. Our light is not meant only for us. We’re supposed to share it. Freely. And with as many people as possible.