I can’t exactly pinpoint where I was, what I was doing, or who I was with when the truth hit me, but at some point in college, the concept of light struck me in such a way that has forever changed me and the way I think, act, and believe.
What I do remember is learning the eternal certainty that no matter how dark darkness is, light can and will always overcome. With light, there is always victory. With light, there is always grace. With light, there is always life.
It makes sense, then, that when God was creating, the first thing He spoke into existence was light:
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. -Genesis 1:2-4
Pre-creation, everything was in darkness and empty. In this context, the original Hebrew translates “darkness” as disorder, confusion, uncertainty, death. Yet, as soon as the Spirit of God began to hover, things began to happen. God called light into being and saw that it was good. This “light” in Hebrew translates to victory, guidance, bearer of deliverance. Then, God separated the light from the darkness, distinguishing it as different, not the same, contradicting.
The church I attend gave away study guides during the season of Lent. As I scanned through it, one line caught my attention. Apart from light informing the eyes, there is no ability to behold beauty. No ability to behold beauty? If light didn’t exist, if my eyes aren’t open to see, I am unable to behold beauty. From the annual Texas bluebonnets every spring and my dog attempting to catch a lizard, to the kids playing cricket in the streets of India and the hot steam of fresh Colombian coffee. None of those glimpses of beauty can be seen without light informing the eyes. Even at night, there is still some light flickering in the stars and the bugs and the cars that pass by.
This implies that since darkness is the absence of light, that beauty is the presence of light and that which God has created. Therefore, all things in and of the light are God’s divine, beautifully crafted handiwork.
Oh, just breathe and let that rest in your soul for a moment.
As an English major post-graduation, I was desperate to be with people who read books, analyzed books, and talked about books. So, naturally, I joined a book group. It is filled with ladies from my parents’ church, ranging in ages, ethnicities, and life-stories, all unified by the blood of Christ. The book for June was called Goodbye is Not Forever, and we were blessed to have the author, Amy George, come and share her story with us. Growing up in the Ukraine pre-World War II, Amy’s life was one full of hardship and troubles. She shared how her father was forcefully arrested by the Soviet secret police and sent to Siberia. Without her father to provide, life proved difficult. Before Amy and the rest of her family was taken by the Third Reich and sent to a slave labor camp, she relayed to the group of a time when she went outside after a long, hard winter and soaked up the heat of the day, bringing life to her cold bones and joy to her tiny heart.
“From the sunshine I knew there was love out there.”
When Amy said that, I felt like I had walked into a familiar, yet unchartered revelation from God Himself. From the sunshine, she knew love. From a fire-burning, light-emitting ball, she knew of love’s existence. The being of light proved that love is. In the midst of poverty, hardship, near-starvation, and soon-to-be slavery, Amy knew that, because of the light, darkness could not win.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He says to His followers:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16
He’s talking to us! He’s telling us, you and me and all other believers, that we are the light of the world. We are the grace-filled. We are the life-givers. We are the love-spreaders. We are the victors. We are the light! In comparison to Hebrew “light” (victory, guidance, bearer of deliverance), the Greek translation of “light” in this context means to shine, make manifest, make known, and the splendor and glory of God. It’s a dual action word. It is something that we do, as well as something we emit. The Spirit has hovered over our lives and granted us the opportunity to carry the light of the world to all who see us. Since we are the light, others will see us. (Remember…light always overcomes darkness.) They will see beauty and God’s craftsmanship, His splendor and glory. And they will want more.
Where is your light? Are you hiding it under a basket? Are you dulling your light to near darkness? Or are you shining forth and breathing life into cold bones, like the sunshine did into Amy? Are you radiating to others the light that speaks of the victory we have in Christ?
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. –Revelation 21:23-25