"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
November 5, 2014
A few weeks ago, Jon and I were watching the second Hobbit movie. In one of the scenes, there was a battle between Gandolf (one of the good guys) and an evil spirit. The evil spirit spoke to Gandolf and said, "There is no light that can penetrate the darkness."
Last week I wrote about the Cumberland Gap tunnel. I was driving at the time that we saw the signs for a tunnel. We just caught a glance of the signs, and being unfamiliar with the road had no idea if the tunnel was on the road we were on..... how long the tunnel would be... or any details regarding it. It caught us by surprise.
The tunnel was not quite a mile long; which we had no way of knowing at the time. They had lights hung to the top of the tunnel the entire way through. If they hadn't had those lights, it would have been pitch black, except for the headlights of the cars. As we were driving through, we were wondering how long the tunnel was going to be. Finally, Jon said, "I see a light at the end of the tunnel." Even though there were lights inside the tunnel, that one little spot of light from the outside penetrated the tunnel with a brightness that let us know that we would soon be out.
The thing is, it was overcast and drizzling rain off and on that day. But that natural light from the outside far exceeded the man-made lighting inside the tunnel. It had more clarity and caught our attention. At first it was just a tiny ray of light, but as we drove closer to it, it grew in brightness and strength. As we came out of the tunnel, we were surrounded by the natural lighting from the sky and could clearly see what was surrounding us.
In Genesis chapter one, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty and filled with darkness. One of the very first things that God spoke into existence was light. Verse 3 says, "Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then He separated the light from the darkness."
God didn't have to do that to see what He was doing. He could have spoken everything else into existence before separating the light from the darkness. I believe that it is significant that this was one of the very first things that God did after creating the heavens and the earth. It is God's desire to always separate darkness from light; whether it be in the natural or spiritual.
God is all-knowing and He knew that Adam and Eve would choose to disregard His instructions about eating the fruit from the one forbidden tree in the entire garden. That wasn't God's will or His choice for them, but He knew that Satan would appear in the form of a serpent and tempt them. I don't believe that anything that has ever happened throughout history has been a surprise to God; both the evil and the good.
From the very beginning, God knew that darkness would enter the hearts of mankind and the temptation to sin and disregard Him would often overcome the desire to love and obey and do what was right. But God loved us so very much that He chose to send His Son to come as a light to penetrate the darkness of sin.
In John 8:12, "Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, 'I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.'"
Jesus is light and He can penetrate the darkness, regardless of how deep or dark or impenetrable it may seem.
The comment from the Hobbit movie that the evil spirit made to Gandolf, is a lie that Satan has been telling people since the beginning of time. He wants us to believe that there is no light that is bright enough to penetrate the darkness. Satan wants us to believe that our sin is too great and too dark for us to ever find forgiveness. He wants us to believe that we have to always endure the darkness of sin and shame and condemnation and regret. But that's all a lie.
There is no sin too dark that the light of Christ cannot penetrate. When we accept the forgiveness of Jesus and allow Him to wash away our sin, we will find that the darkness is pushed back and light enters our heart. The closer we get to God, the more light that will penetrate our heart, until we will find our entire being flooded with His light.
Not only is Jesus the light of the world, but He calls us to also be lights. In Matthew chapter five, Jesus is teaching and says (verses 14-16), "You are the light of the world -- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.'"
So how do we let the light of Jesus shine through us? I believe it's by how we live our daily lives. The closer our relationship is with Jesus, the brighter His light will shine through us. We don't have to stand behind a pulpit and preach, lead worship, teach a Sunday School class, be a deacon (although all of those roles are important and God does call and place some in those positions) in order to let our light shine. Often it's the little deeds that we do that stand out to people and have the most impact on individuals.
For example: Several years ago my sister worked at a particular job as a sign language interpreter. The basics of the job was teaching students who had moved to the US from other countries learn English. She was assigned to one particular deaf student in the class. But there was also a sixth grader in the class who was new to our country and could not speak one word of English. She would cry because she was scared and felt like she could not learn. Janie and some of the others would comfort her and encourage her. This past weekend, Janie was in Chick-Fil-A and there was a beautiful cashier taking orders. She knew that she had seen the young lady before and was trying to remember where she knew her from. As she stepped up to the counter, the young lady said, "I know you! You are the lady that does sign language!" Five years had passed since the two had seen one another. Today she can speak perfect English. She came out from behind the counter they hugged and chatted like long lost friends. The young lady told Janie that she had been thinking about her recently and then..... there she was! A few days later she sent Janie a message saying that because of her English problem she had been unable to thank her for being so kind-hearted with her from day one and she really appreciated her for always helping her during that time; that Janie really had impacted her life. Now she can tell her because she knows English.
You never know how kindness may impact a person's life. Even the smallest light can penetrate the darkness and make a difference.
There's a kids' song that says, "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine......" Another verse says, "Hide it under a bushel.... NO.... I'm gonna let it shine......"
The greatest way we can make an impact on others is by allowing the light of Jesus shine through us; through our words, deeds, and actions. When we all do so, then it will flood the darkness of this sin-filled world with the light of Christ.
It's hard to explain just how much light there is in the world. Most people would have a hard time with the idea of photons flying around everywhere, filling up every bit of space. But it might be easier to consider a star so far away that the light takes decades to get to us. Decades ago, that star sent out so much light that, even after spreading in every direction over all that space, enough hits each person's eyeball to see. And it hits everywhere with or without an eye to see it. And it put out that much light constantly. And so does every other star.
As close as we are to our sun, the light completely fills the sky, even on many overcast days. Even if you close your eyes, the light of the sun will usually make it through.
If you haven't already, take a look around a movie theater while a movies is playing. No matter how hard the theater designers work, they can't make the rest of the room dark, and still be able to show a movie.
The point is, just a little light can still fill a room. It's hard to block out. God's light can also fill everywhere. In fact, it's hard to keep it out.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and pecans; stir well. Pour into pie shell and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
Thanksgiving is coming up in about three weeks. So for the next three weeks, I'm going to use this space to say things that I'm thankful for. I will say up front that first and foremost I am so thankful for Jesus and my relationship with Him. Life is hard enough at times as it is, so I cannot even imagine trying to make it in life without having God in my life.
I am so thankful and grateful for my husband. Wow! Who would have thought that God would have managed to bring a backwoods, country girl and an geeky, city boy together?! Even though we had completely different backgrounds and upbringing, it's amazing how compatible we are and how much we have in common. Do I understand everything that Jon does as an electrical engineer and computer programmer..... NO! Do I like sci-fi and fantasy genre movies and TV shows..... NO (I tolerate)! Does Jon like to watch sappy, feel-good movies and TV shows..... NO (he tolerates)! Is he musically inclined..... ummm, that's a NO -- although he does enjoy listening to music! Does he like to read books..... NO! God didn't create us as husband and wife to be clones of one another. But we have so much in common that the differences really don't matter. We both enjoy nature and watching clouds and sunsets and sunrises. We like taking walks or drives to look at trees and mountains and rocks and all the beauty that God created. Jon has a nerdy sense of humor that makes me laugh... or roll my eyes and sigh. I mispronounce words that make him laugh.... or roll his eyes as he corrects me. I sometimes make up words that make him laugh.. or shake his head. Jon will say something that will make me think of a song, and I'll break out in song at any given moment.... which can be a tad annoying for him at times, when he's trying to tell me something. We make one another laugh. We enjoy life together. We love experiencing new places and adventures together as a couple. I frustrate and aggravate Jon at times.... and he frustrates and irritates me on occasion. I like new clothes and shoes -- he doesn't see the need for new things. I'm not the most patient of people and annoy Jon by my lack of perfection in certain areas..... he's a project starter and slow to finish, which can be a tad annoying at times. But overall, I can't imagine my life without Jon in it and love spending my days with him. We are the biggest supporter and encourager of one another. We are best friends!
Even though we've only been married for nine years, Jon has become such an important part of my life that it's sometimes difficult to remember a time when he wasn't there. I have to say that we bring out the very best in each other. I love you, Jonathan Dale Gray and am loving living life with you!!
Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat. - Harry Emerson Fosdick
We love you!
Loretta & Jon