I think I’m addicted to light.
I was, actually, diagnosed with that SAD disease in my early twenties (a verdict that came as good news when the doc said a trip to Florida was the best cure for what ailed me), but it’s not just sunlight that makes my heart sing. I’m drawn to all kinds of light: candle light, firelight, even the refrigerator light that glows such warm welcome in the wee hours of the night.
I love light, and when this year’s Grand Illumination–the one-street wonder that kicks off Christmas in our neck of the woods–got cancelled due to Covid, it came as a blow. Not a surprise, given the stadium-sized crowd the event draws every year, but still. An emotional setback.
Christmas lights have a way of keeping the gloom of winter at bay. They fill hearts with hope. And in a year that seems bleaker than most, I find myself drawn, like the proverbial moth, not just to lighted windows and trees, but also to Scriptures that come with the power to push back the darkness.
Verses like Isaiah 9:2, which heralds the coming of Christ: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
Or John 8:12, where Jesus reveals himself as the light of the world and makes an incredible promise: “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Or John 1:4-5. Here, John says that Jesus gave light and life to everyone, piercing the darkness with a flame that nothing could ever snuff out or smother.
Isn’t that…remarkable? Here we are in the waning days of 2020, surrounded by a world of darkness–families unable to gather, loved ones sick, churches closed–and yet God says we have light. We have the light of life. We are encircled by, and enfolded in, Jesus–a living beacon the darkness can never extinguish.
I don’t know about you, but to me that comes as very good news.
Still, though, there are days–seasons, even–when the clouds try to press in. Days when we know the light’s there, but we cannot perceive it. Days when the gloom settles heavy.
If that’s where you find yourself now–if you need to Christ’s light to kindle hope in your heart this Advent season–can I invite you to lean in with me? I don’t have all the answers, of course, but here are three things that might help.
First, allow Scripture to scatter your darkness. The Bible says that God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. But don’t just read the words on the page; speak them back to God in prayer form. Here’s how John 8:12 might be prayed:
Lord Jesus, you are the light of the world. Teach me to follow you so that I will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.
Second, shed some light on your soul with a life-giving book. I’m loving Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift. It’s meant to be an Advent devotional, tracing the promise of Christ through the Old Testament one December day at a time, but I feel like it would work as a post-Christmas reading. I expect to be digging in all over again, come the dark days of January.
And finally, hang some lights.
When Robbie heard the Grand Illumination was cancelled, he missed barely a beat. He spent a couple of days climbing ladders, straddling balconies, and burrowing into the bushes, and then, as darkness fell, he ushered us all out into the yard. Threading his way from outlet to outlet, cord to cord, plug to plug, he lit up our night.
It might not have been the Grand Illumination, but it was our illumination. And it was marvelous.
And honestly? When January rolls around, I think we’ll keep the Christmas lights up. The days will still be short, Covid will still be long, and I’ll probably want to crawl into a hole and wait for the first crocus to spout. I will need–I will cherish–the visible reminder of who Jesus is.
He is the light, and the love, that no darkness can douse.
P.S. People, as it turns out, are not the only creatures who love light.
I know this because Quarantine Kitty–the one Virginia scooped from the SPCA nine months ago when she fled New York City as the pandemic started to spread–does not go outside. And when the rest of us went out to ooh and ahh over Robbie’s handiwork, the cat did her own light inspection.
Evidently, they taste as good as they look.