The room is just the right temperature. The covers are the perfect weight. The lights are off, your body relaxes, and you’re just about to drop off to sleep.
What’s the last thing you want to happen in that moment?
Someone to shine a light in your face.
It might help to remember, when we’re trying to let our light shine in this world, that some people don’t necessarily want to be awakened.
And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).
Many missionaries have heard calls to the field telling the woes of people who have never heard the gospel and are crying out for someone to come. They invest a great deal of time and money preparing to uproot their families, leave their loved ones, and go to a faraway country, full of hope and big plans. But then they find no one is really crying out in need. No one wants their message. Everyone seems pretty self-satisfied. It’s no wonder that some missionaries of old who blazed the trails, like Adoniram Judson, went for seven years in Burma without any response.
Does that mean we don’t shine our lights? No, Jesus told us to:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).
But we understand that people might resist, even reject it at first. We try to make the message as inviting as possible, but we understand that others consider the cross itself foolish, or even an offense, no matter how unoffensively we try to present it.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Sometimes we need to wake people up in a hurry due to an emergency or danger. Or some don’t wake up to a gentle approach. Some people need a sudden Damascus Road experience like Paul , where the light suddenly shines forth in such brightness that they’re blinded. And only then, the scales fall from their eyes and they begin to see.
But many people experience more of a slow dawning. The light of the world we share is Jesus. As they see glimpses of Him and His truth, they are drawn to Him.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5).
When I am trying to fall asleep, light is an irritant. When I lay down on the couch for a nap, the overheard light in the living room or dining room is right in my eyes. Then I have to wrestle with getting up to turn it off, which will wake me up more, or trying to ignore it to go to sleep.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart (1 Peter 1:19).
But once I am awake, I am thankful for the light that drew me from drowsy darkness, even if I was irritated and grumpy at first. Sometimes I even berate myself for not responding to the light earlier.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:19).
We shine our lights by using the Word of God.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).
We shine our lights by how our transformed conduct differs from the world.
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Ephesians 5:8-11).
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain (Philippians 2:14-16).
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:12-14).
We shine our lights by pointing back to our light Source.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should remain in darkness (John 12:46).
We try to stress the urgency of waking.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11).
Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep (Mark 13:35-36).
We hope, we trust, we pray that the Light will chase away the shadows and drowsiness, and draw the spiritually sleepy to the joys of the full light of day.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light (Psalm 36:9).
For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness (Psalm 18:28).
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Shine, Jesus, shine through each of us!
Well, what an interesting take! I love things like this, where I’m forced to think about something Biblical in a new way. I’d always thought of “shining your light” being a cheery, positive thing. You raise a good point that shining lights can be unwelcome and disruptive. Especially in the current world situation, many seem to not want that light. Thank you for your take on this and for giving me food for thought …
I think, on the other side of receiving the light, we see it as cheery and positive. But when we’re cozy and drowsy and don’t want to be bothered, it’s unfortunately not so welcome. I’m so thankful God persists in shining it, though!
I believe we are living in the midst of a “crooked and twisted world.” There’s evidence of that all around us. I agree that most people don’t want to be exposed to the light. Evil and disobedience shun the light. I also agree that by living in a way that is different and stands out (in a positive way) is the best way to shine our light which points to the Light that is Christ. Excellent post. I always enjoy reading your perspective!
Thanks so much, Bev. This world does seem to be getting darker all the time. May others see and respond to the Light of Christ.
Such a good read for me this morning, Barbara. We do shine our light when we help to build God’s kingdom here on earth. I was reminded of this verse from James 2: But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Let our light reflect the one true Source, indeed!
That’s a great verse to show how belonging to God should change us. It doesn’t help to just say truth if people can’t see it in our lives.
Barbara, it seems like we’re both sensing a quickening to reach God’s lost lambs! I find it interesting that the Burma missionary took 7 years before he got a response – 7 years of relationship, of showing the trueness of his faith – I think there’s a message right there, too. I, for one, never like my sleep interrupted by anything, light included! LOL – your message hit home!
“We shine our lights by pointing back to our light Source.” Amen!
Barbara, I always hear to shine the light of Jesus around us, but I sometimes forget that people don’t want to be awakened from their sleep. Thanks for that reminder (I’ll be praying more intentionally for those in my life in this place), and for the exhortation to keep shining my light anyway. 🙂
I love the progression of your post and the call to shine our lights. I am a processor and love waking up slowly so I don’t think I would have done well with a Damascus Road experience.
I have also found that people in my area are complacent, and the idea that they are lost is it even on their radar! Your thoughts on the different types of light people want/ need were extremely helpful.
I’m visiting from the Serious Writer FB post. I love your point that many people experience a slow dawning. That’s such a good reason why we need to shine our light consistently!
This is great! The light of the morning stays, and eventually I rouse myself from bed, really preferring the dark so I can still sleep, but always thankful that I got up. I appreciate the reminder to be like the light of day and continue shining even if it doesn’t seem that the sleeping around me are noticing.
Patti @ Clothed with Joy
Now, of course I’m singing “this little light of mine!”
You make a valid point! There are times where we prefer the darkness. In the natural realm, that’s okay. 🙂 But in the spiritual realm, I want the light on at all times.
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