Just A Piece of Paper?

Standard

We were in-town visiting my in-laws in mid-December. There was an appointment to take my mother-in-law to and preparations to be made for a family Christmas party a few days later. We sat down to a Costco dinner when I saw the slip of paper on the kitchen table. It would have been easy to miss in the menagerie of food, dishes, papers, and medicine bottles scattered in front of me.

It was just a slip of paper announcing an “Advent Spiral Walk” for that very night in less than an hour. The title caught my eye because I had never heard of an Advent Spiral Walk. I suggested that we check it out. My mother-in-law did not want to go if it was held outside in the cold. I wasn’t sure about driving in the dark in an unfamiliar town. Wouldn’t I rather just stay put and unwind in front of the television for the evening? Still, something tugged at me to go, if simply for the fact that it was nearby and free. Curiosity won out.

My in-laws’ church is small, but big on ideas for fresh ways to encounter Jesus. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt twinges of excitement and anticipation. We entered the church and were greeted by angels. They were the human kind with white robes, tinsel halos and genuine smiles. An angel led us into the sanctuary decked out with greenery, red bows, and lit candles everywhere. A Christmas tree towered over us as the sentinel for the ceramic nativity scene. The Christ family was huddled together in the stable on one side of the room. The wise men were travelling from afar on the opposite side of the sanctuary.

The crowd was sparse as the pianist played Christmas carols and the audience sang along. It was the perfect atmosphere to be still and let the rich words of well-known and new-to-me Christmas songs settle deep in my soul. After a while, the angel invited us to the Advent Spiral Walk held in a different part of the church. We walked into a darkened room with the flicker of candlelight outlining the spiral and edges of the room.  Pine branches comprised the spiral and beckoned us in.

We were given an unlit candle to carry as we began our journey. The Advent Walk was designed to be savored, not rushed. Candlelight guided our path as our eyes, minds, and hearts were illuminated. Each step and each candle were a reminder that Jesus is the Light of the world and in the dark recesses of our hearts. In the center of the spiral, an angel lit our candles and instructed us to place our light on the path. Future spiral-walkers would follow our light just as we were guided by the light of others before us.

Just a slip of paper? My answer is no. That piece of paper was an invitation to remember the reason for the season. It was my permission slip to slow down and enjoy the moments leading up to Christmas. It was an opportunity to reflect and prepare my heart in the midst of a very busy month. The paper was a reminder to experience Christ as I celebrate Christmas.

Jesus’s light shouldn’t be obscured by the busyness, presents, baked goodies, cards, shopping, parties, and distractions of achieving that perfect Christmas. Jesus is the perfect gift and the perfect Christmas. Jesus is the Son of God who became flesh so we can personally receive God’s gift of extreme love.

Seek the light, be the light, and share the light this Christmas season!

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Acts 13:47

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

 

Advertisements

What Does The Light Reveal?

Standard

Sponge Painting 0

I was excited to paint our bathroom. However, I was not excited about the preparation necessary to paint. Thanks to the decorating tastes of the prior homeowners, our bathroom walls were textured with bright red sponge-painted on a white background.

My husband described the work to be done before I could even think about opening up the can of paint that would transform the bathroom. We removed everything attached to the walls. We brought in megawatt lights to illuminate flaws to be spackled. I cleaned the walls with a washcloth and felt for surface imperfections hidden in the distraction of sponge-painting.

The next step was to sand and smooth out the wall surfaces. It was impossible to remove all the globs of red paint. We did our best and crossed our fingers that what remained would not be too noticeable on the finished walls.

One coat of primer was not enough to hide the bright red. Two coats of primer were better, but not perfect. The white primer revealed nail holes and more nail pops that we could not see or feel before. More spackling, sanding, and priming were the result. Finally, we reached the point that we were done—literally done. There were still more flaws to correct, but in our minds and hearts, “It was good enough!”

Two coats of paint later and my bathroom felt brand new. Final inspection (before putting the paint supplies away for good) involved passing a light up-close over every wall from floor to ceiling. I was disheartened. We had taken our time and given it our best, but the sponge-painted texture was still evident in certain areas. The bathroom was now bright and cheery, but it wasn’t perfect. It was simply good enough.

God never settles for just good enough. God requires perfection in our holiness. We may think that we are good people with good intentions whitewashed of sin. However, God’s standard of holiness reveals flaws that are still evident. We may live a good life doing good for others. Yet, God’s light shines in the deepest parts of our being to illuminate the sin hidden from plain view.

On our own, we will always struggle with imperfections as we peel away one layer of sin after another. God longs to transform our lives of dark sin into beautiful displays of holiness in His image! Through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, God forgives our sins and imparts His holiness into us.

Jesus is the light of the world revealing judgment of sin to those who reject Him. Jesus is the light of life revealing forgiveness of sins to those who choose faith in Him. Embrace the light found in the loving touch of God the Father whose handiwork is always perfect.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

 

Light The Way

Standard

The Light 1

It was just a cheesy landscape decoration made in China. The plastic butterfly on a stick seemed out-of-place as my in-laws and I sat outside enjoying the evening. With the day waning, the butterfly began to shine forth with ever-changing colors. I was drawn to the light as my eyes forgot about the darkness settling.

Much to my delight, my mother-in-law had an extra decoration. I went home with my own landscape decoration of light shaped like a flower. Placed outside my kitchen window, I purposely walked by that window after dark to glimpse the light.

During the day, the stronger light of the sun charges the battery attached to the flower, all in preparation for the evening. If the day was cloudy with the sun playing peek-a-boo, the flower does not last through the night. Each morning brings another opportunity for the flower to be refreshed in order to display light.

The purpose of light is to pierce the darkness. The light becomes a beacon of hope that guides the way. What was once hidden by the dark shadows is now revealed by the light. God sent His light into the world as a bouncing baby boy: Jesus Christ the promised Son and light of the world.

Jesus’s light caused men to fall at His feet in worship and other men to plot His death. It is the same today. The light of Jesus Christ always unveils the motivation of our hearts. May we embrace God’s light of eternal life in order to shine forth and draw others to Jesus. The world’s darkness will continue to encroach. However, God’s light will permeate all enabling us to endure through the night.

At the end of the day, it is God’s light in Jesus Christ that confirms we are truly home.

Psalm 18:28

You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”