Every morning I am up much earlier than the rest of the family. I go into the kitchen to make my morning coffee, and I do it mostly in the dark. I might turn on the small light over the stove, and I might use the light from the refrigerator when I'm pouring creamer into my coffee, but other than that, I keep most of the lights off.
It's not because I like the darkness. In fact, I'm really not a fan of darkness. Darkness symbolizes a variety of things in scripture - from fear to ignorance, to evil. It's easy to see why. Darkness symbolizes fear because you never know what might lurk in the shadows. Darkness symbolizes evil, because those who do evil deeds prefer to be hidden in the darkness. And darkness symbolizes ignorance because...well, if you've ever stubbed your toe on a piece of furniture in the darkness, you understand that.
So why do I stumble around in the darkness? Because I have an understanding with my children. At 5:30 I will turn the lights on in the kitchen. If they're awake, they've been lying in the bedroom watching for that sliver of light to shine under the door; when they see it, they know it's morning, and it's okay to get up.
If they wake up before the light comes, they have to wait patiently in their beds until the arrival of the light.
I was thinking of this Christmas morning, in conjunction with the verses from Isaiah 60 which say:
These are verses about Israel in the Old Testament, but they are also appropriate for the believer. After all, Jesus declared himself the Light of the world, and John made this declaration:
In the coming of Christ, the antidote to the darkness became incarnate. Against fear, the incarnate Christ is hope. Against ignorance, He is knowledge and wisdom. Against wickedness He is the righteousness of God.
One of the great glories of His coming is that He did not just shine, but His light shone upon us. We, in the image of Christ, are to be hope, wisdom, and righteousness in the midst of darkness.
The coming of the Savior is like the sliver of light under the door that says "It's time to get up!"
So, as Isaiah said, "Get out of bed, and SHINE, because the LIGHT has arrived!"
One of the perks of living next to my parents is that when Dad gets out his snow blower to clear their driveway, he also brings it over our way and clears our yard as well. We had our first big snowstorm over the weekend, and we knew that our young son (who was too young to remember anything about winter last year) would be very interested to see the snow blower for the first time.
Sure enough, when we heard the snow blower coming our way, we directed him to the window, and he clung to the windowsill in excitement as he saw his grandfather on his little tractor, and watched a fountain of snow blow into the sky.
But our son doesn't have a very long attention span, and as soon as Dad finished one swath and disappeared from view, our son started to walk away from the window.
"Don't go," I said, "he's coming back!"
And then I thought -- isn't that how we are?
In John 14:3, Jesus tells His disciples that He's going away, but if He goes, He will return again. We know he's coming back, but like young children, we get easily distracted from that.
At Christmas, we celebrate Christ's first advent, but when December 26th arrives, we put away the manger scene, the Christmas tree, and all the other trappings of the holiday season, and move on with the everyday grind of life.
Not that we shouldn't get on with the grind of life, but we should do so with a powerful awareness -- the sense of anticipation and eagerness with which we looked forward to Christmas day is the same sense of anticipation and eagerness with which we should look forward to his return.
Just as I say to my son, "He's coming back," let's keep reminding one another, "He's coming back! Maranatha!"