“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).
Fourth of July. Independence Day. Declaration of Independence. God and Country. I have been sitting here a while googling them all and looking for something fresh and inspirational. Sometimes it is more difficult than other times to be “fresh.” To be perfectly honest, on this eve of the celebration of America’s birth, it is just plain hard to extol the glorious future of America as we know it. Can’t believe I just wrote that as the first paragraph of greetings in the magazine you all read because of its upbeat message.
I confess that I do not have a poker face. I can remember a few zingers I tried to put past my mother in my teenage years. She was incredibly blind to many of my flaws, but she could always tell if I was not truthful. I never perfected the tone, the look, and the perfect mannerisms of innocence when I was guilty. That was probably God’s grace—if I had learned to lie well, who knows where I would be today?
If there is one thing I think we Believers agree about, however, it is that the Christian does not have the luxury of neatly separating his life into compartments—as though God can be assigned to certain categories and totally shut out of others. That can make for some uncomfortable encounters in a politically correct culture where nobody wants to be disliked or labeled something like “bigot,” “hatemonger,” or plain old “stupid.”
As much as we can celebrate the diversity that has built our nation—the mix of races, creeds, languages, customs—there was a common denominator among our founding fathers. They agreed on the importance of God’s blessings in establishing the foundation that would form this new nation, and they acknowledged their complete dependence on His providence to maintain the freedoms that we hold dear.
The above verse from John 1 kept coming to me today, and I began searching for an object lesson anecdote about light. (I am one of those grownups who used to love the children’s sermon because there were some Sundays I got more from that than from the real sermon. DISCLAIMER: Such occurred in a previous church life, of which there have been several).
But then I decided I don’t really need an anecdote because the concept of light is so simple and so beautiful and so inspirational all by itself. One of the most profound epiphanies I can recall are the many Christmas Eve candlelight services of which I have been part, when the church lights were completely shut off, and a single candle shared its flame with its neighbor who shared its new light with its neighbor and on and on until the entire sanctuary was filled with the soft but brilliant light of hundreds of candles. God seems to work in that same way—quietly, consistently, and very, very effectively. Sometimes, when we don’t think we see Him at all, He is working in amazing ways behind the scenes. One thing is for sure, nothing escapes His notice and nothing is beyond His power to change in an instant.
The vivid picture that will never cease to encourage me and will never fade from my memory is that image of a solitary little candle sharing its light with the darkness right there next to it, and then seeing that one little light multiply a hundred fold. The power of one in whose life the light of Christ shines will NOT be overcome by the negative messages, the darkness of the culture, or the seemingly omnipotent powers who oppose that light. We serve the One True God, and He has not gone on vacation. Neither has he abandoned us.
That fact is a reason to celebrate every day! Happy Fourth. Enjoy. Prepare to be inspired by the stories of regular people who are living extraordinary lives because they serve the One and Only True Light of the world.
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”