Did you know that the sky isn’t actually blue? It appears blue because our atmosphere is filled with tiny gas molecules and particles like nitrogen and oxygen and dust. When blue lightwaves from the sun bounce of these tiny particles, they reflect back the color blue, and we see the blue sky. Without the light from the sun these particles are colorless and invisible to the naked eye. But when they are bathed in the light of sun they are made visible & the sunlight can be seen as well.
We don’t see light itself. We only see what light illuminates. And when we see what light has illuminated, we become aware that light is present.
And in a strange way, we human beings have a similar relationship with our Creator.
When we choose to surrender ourselves to God’s light, our lives are bathed in more color and meaning and purpose than we could ever hope to produce on our own. And our surrendered lives, reflecting back the love and grace and mercy we have received, are the primary way God has chosen to reveal His presence to this world.
My Grandma was born in 1918 in a small farming town in Indiana. She remembered the evening when electricity came, for the very first time, to Main Street. The whole town came out to watch as the street lamps flickered on and light flooded the darkened streets. And everything changed. People stayed up later, studied into the night, walked the streets, gathered in homes and pubs into the once-dark hours.
Everything changed because we organize our lives around light.
St John said that Jesus is the true light that has come into the world (John 1:8), meaning, of course, that there are also false lights — other sources of hope and purpose around which we choose to organize our lives. And we reflect back the light of whatever it is we have gathered around.
When your family sees you, when your co-workers see you, what light are you reflecting back to them? What have you organized your life around? The light of their opinion? The flickering lights of human politics or religion? The hollow light of chasing entertainment, of living for the weekend? The deceptive light of your own self-opinion? The trailing light of money, career, ambition?
Or does your light come from a deeper place? Are you aware that through Jesus God’s approval of you is complete and absolute? That your hope is firm and secure, not affected by public opinion, not contingent on your own perceived successes or failures.
Here is truest reality, according to scripture: You are a child of the King. You carry the light of God’s love and grace into every place you find yourself. So wake up. Stay alert. Keep in the true light because the darkness around us is deep (William Stafford). And you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as a child of light. (Ephesians 5:8)
Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. -Psalm 5:6-8
It’s election season and most people I know are non-plussed about the political situation in our country. It’s as though the left and right have finally pushed themselves so far from each other that our nation is pulling thin, stretched like gauze.
But there may be something of deep value hidden in this sense of exhaustion.
When I look at the front window of my house, I see tiny handprints and smudges, I notice the crack where the lawnmower picked up a rock and threw it against the glass. But when I look through the window, I see the wider world beyond — big blue sky, swaying palms, mossy live oak, life upon life upon life.
Many agree that a look at the fabric of our nation leaves the impression that our situation is dire — we might be pulling apart. But a look through the fabric, stretched as it is, may just reveal a glimmer of the light to come.
If we look past our nationalism, we see a kingdom.
The arrived and arriving kingdom that Jesus declared is a place of healing and hope for all people. Where the poor are elevated and the powerful gladly assume the role of servant; a kingdom with no borders to protect, no agendas to advance, save a deep and passionate love for the King and the marginalized. A kingdom that not only accepts refugees, but seeks them out and calls them blessed.
This is the kingdom we’ve been invited into, that we’ve been hard-wired to inhabit. And yes, today, we deal with the realities of this world that God so loves. We elect our leaders, we support them and pray for them. We respond with generosity and gratitude and humility to the incredible amount of safety and privilege we experience as residents of this nation.
But God help us if we get so lost in our politics that we no longer point to His kingdom.
“Who can show us any good,” the Psalmist asks; many in our country echo, “Who can make us great again?”
We see goodness in the grace of God. When His light pours in through our threadbare securities; when His greatness bankrupts our lesser ambitions and reveals:
Jesus didn’t die to secure our rights to a great nation.
He went to prepare us a place in His kingdom.
There is a great and growing dissatisfaction with the status quo in America. And this isn’t comfortable, but it might just be a peculiar grace.
And if we grab hold of this grace, or rather let it grab hold of us, we might be able to offer our world something that cannot be found anywhere else — Life in all it’s fullness.
- Bobby Spahn
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. - Acts 3:6-8
A few months ago I had the privilege of having dinner with some dear friends and mentors, Gary and Joy. While waiting for our food to arrive we sat and discussed the current events of life and how things were going. As we talked, our waitress came over to refill our drinks and then, all of a sudden, Joy gets a huge smile on her face. After the waitress left we curiously asked Joy, “What are you smiling about?” And with a look of gladness and joy, she replied, "I think God just gave me a word for our waitress."
I'll never forget the look on Joy's face. There was nothing weird or self-indulgent about it. All you could sense was both her gratefulness and excitement that God seemed to be wanting to partner with Joy in presenting his presence and love to our waitress.
So at the end of our meal, Joy quietly walked over to the waitress and shared with her what she felt God had put on her heart and asked if she could pray for her. By the end of their time together the waitress was deeply moved and grateful, confirming that what Joy had shared made an impact. After this, we just joyfully went on our way.
What made this moment all the more impactful for me, as a bystander, was the fact that we had just left a conference, that Gary and Joy were leading, designed to help a church learn how to live a “naturally supernatural” lifestyle. And the conference was great! Close to 500 people attended the event, and some amazing God moments happened. However, this experience with the waitress did not have a stage, and it did not have a mic, and it did not have an auditorium full of people. It was just a couple friends at a restaurant, talking about life, when we one of them notices God at work and she decides to join him in the process.
Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” [Jn. 5.17, NIV].
When Peter and John encountered this man with the healing power of the kingdom, it is right after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and all the amazing things that followed that event (Acts 2). And yet, this experience did not happen on a stage or in a church building, but in a familiar place: the gates of the temple.
For Peter and John, walking to the temple for prayer was nothing new. In fact, it’s very possible that these disciples visited the temple with Jesus and had passed by this man before. What made this time so different, however, was Pentecost, that outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit on his children. In this moment the sacred and secular were no longer divided, as God’s presence was now carried in his people.
Luke tells us that the place where this all transpired was at a gate called Beautiful, and beautiful the thought is, that God longs to bring his extraordinary into our ordinary. That with him, no time is wasted time if we simply make ourselves open and available to whatever he would have for us, moment by moment, day by day, no matter where we find ourselves.
Beautiful the thought is, if we would not use our conferences or churches as hiding places, but instead as catapults into a world that could use the healing touch of its Father.