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!"
Last Thursday I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. I got up early in the morning and drove to New Hampshire to hike one of my favorite mountains -- Mount Chocorua. I say early, and I do mean early. Normally when I'm hiking, I hike with other people, and they never want to get started as early as I do. I left the house at 4:45 a.m.
Why did I want to get started so early? Because I wanted to be on the summit while the sun was still low on the horizon, on a cool fall morning. I had something particular in mind...the contrast of light and darkness.
The colors on the mountains are always interesting, but there's something special about the colors early in the morning and late in the afternoon. When the sun is low on the horizon, much of the land is in shadows, because it lies behind hills that block the sunlight. These areas of darkness make the light stand out as all the more beautiful.
As I stood on the summit looking out at the scenery around me, enjoying the fall colors, and appreciating that visual interplay of light and darkness, it occurred to me that in this simple scene, there was an important spiritual lesson for me.
"You are the light of the world," Jesus says. What Christ wants of me is that I be like an autumn leaf, ablaze with color, standing out brightly from the shadows of the dark world around me. Except, to be honest, I don't always feel all that bright. And suddenly it dawned on me (literally and figuratively!). The leaf, by itself, is not much to look at either; its true beauty comes from having the full glory of the sun shining upon it.
So it is with us. I, in myself, am just another dried up, dying fall leaf. But I'm not "just me" anymore; the full, glorious light of the Savior shines on me!
And if the world around me is in shadows and darkness, shouldn't I stand out all the more? 2 Corinthians puts it this way:
Like a fall leaf, I turn my face to the glorious Light of the World, and let his brightness transform me with ever-increasing glory!