Advent Devotional: Let There Be Light

On December mornings, I become a lightbringer.  I walk through the still, sleeping house and set everything to twinkling, plugging in glowing Christmas trees and strands of lights that suddenly bring magic to dark corners and make even our foot-worn, stained carpets look soft and inviting.  I enjoy the idea that when my children wake up they will open their eyes to a home that just barely hints at the radiance of God. In fact, especially at Christmastime, it feels as though the Light of the World shoots out of all our cracks and around the broken edges of things.  I turn on the lights, thinking about Jesus, about Matthew’s testimony that, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Matthew 4: 16); about John’s exiled, cave-sheltered writing that, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).”

The writer John Burke compiled a book called Imagine Heaven, comparing the “near-death” experiences of men and women of a variety of ages and situations.  One of the fascinating similarities Burke discovered was that many of these people noticed light “(which felt like love) coming out of grass and leaves.”  In fact, Brad, who had been born blind, described his experience this way:

There was a tremendous light up there.  It seemed to come from every direction…It was all around and everywhere that I happened to be looking…It seemed like everything, even the grass I had been stepping on, seemed to soak in that light.  It seemed like the light could actually penetrate through everything that was there, even the leaves on the trees. There was no shade, there was no need for shade. The light was actually all-encompassing.  Yet I wondered how I could know that because I had never seen before that point (112).

Regardless of what you believe about “near-death” experiences, the idea that Heaven throbs with the light of God is certainly Biblical.  From the first moment God appears on the pages of scripture through to the denouement of John’s Revelation, God describes Himself as a lightbringer.  In fact, not merely a lightbringer, but as the light itself. As John also writes, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (John 1:5, emphasis mine).”  Jesus said, “I am the light of world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).”  So maybe it’s no accident that we begin our earthly lives as children looking for nightlights in the darkness and finish them grumbling about the dim lighting in restaurants. Maybe that’s not just about who we are but also about whom we’re meant to become. Since God is light, we have somewhere threaded into our hearts a longing to seek His light to See.  Since God has set eternity in the hearts of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11), He has with it given us the longing for a place with walls called Salvation and gates called Praise, were God himself is our everlasting light (Isaiah 60:18-19).  In that place, God says, “you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy (Isaiah 60:5).” Light-seekers gazing into the glory of the one who is the Light become Light-bearers. But that isn’t just a promise for Heaven.  As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “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 God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

Isaiah 60 describes the resplendent, restored glory of Zion, where God dwells once again with us and our “days of sorrow will end (Isaiah 60:20).”  I imagine Isaiah exhaling with force, pausing to find more air, after he proclaims, “I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly (60:22).” And then, breath restored, out of the prophet rushes Spirit-filled words that belong to Jesus, words that will later fall from God’s own lips:

 

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3).

The Light came and made His dwelling among us; God became man and once again, human beings heard the sound of His feet on the earth.  Restoration began with the first coming of Christ. God turned ON the Light. But unlike our twinkling Christmas lights, God’s Light doesn’t just make things look better.  His light actually transforms the world.

During Advent, why not let every glowing tree and twinkling light strand draw us to worship?  As we gather in the beauty of the season, we can shift our spiritual gaze to the all-transforming glory of God.  We are Light-seekers who, by grace, became Light-bearers with a mission to be Light-bringers. As we reflect Christ in every dark corner, He transforms the world into a place with walls called Salvation and gates named Praise.

You are loved!

Elysa

p.s. Have some fun with this.  Go out with family or friends to see Christmas lights.  Drive through neighborhoods and do a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt (our family likes this freebie).  Each time you see something glorious and breathtaking and beautiful, think of Jesus and imagine what the Light will be like when He comes back.

 


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