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A few Sundays ago I was trying to think of something new to do with the kids in children's church. I happened to see an extra string of lights laying around and decided to use that to teach them what Jesus said about being a light.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
We plugged in the lights and talked about what a difference they made in our sad, dark room. Then, we unplugged the lights and talked about how without the power, there wasn't much to them. That's when we talked about how Jesus is the light that shines in us.
"Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
After the events of last Friday, it felt like a darkness fell on our country. It was a devastation that even those of us not closely related couldn't escape. Pain. Despair. Questions. Hurt. Betrayal.
I've heard people talk about not being able to celebrate Christmas or feeling guilty if they were. I totally understand that sentiment. I was at my work Christmas party when we stopped to watch the breaking news. A room full of women who have devoted their lives and careers to working with and protecting children cried in the midst of cookies, cakes and gifts.
While I would never even want to imagine what those families are going through, I do understand loss at this time. In fact, although I lost my Daddy on Christmas day, today, December 19th is the day that he became unresponsive and was taken to the hospital. He never woke up. So, for me this is the day that I feel I lost my Dad. As he left this earth on Christmas Day, people would always comment on how the holidays would never be the same. And, that was the truth. But for me, that loss has caused me to have such a deep appreciation for this time of year. I experienced God's peace in a way that I never had. As crazy as it sounds, I also feel like because it happened at this time of year, it is almost easier because things are so crazy and busy, I just don't have much time to dwell on it. It doesn't mean it's easy. Just easier.
When news broke Friday, it was overwhelming. I finally had to turn the news off. I just couldn't take it. There would have been a time that I would have wanted to know every detail, follow every new lead that broke. I would have felt that I owed it to those families. God taught me about that when I lost my Dad.
For 2 weeks after he passed I would lay in bed unable to sleep. Scenes from the hospital would replay in my mind constantly. I felt haunted by thoughts of my Dad suffering. I wondered if I would ever sleep again. Finally, one night I asked God, "Do I have to think about this? Is this necessary? Can I heal without replaying these thoughts?" And God brought His Word to my mind.
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. "
I decided that I would have to make a choice to not let my mind linger in dark places. I would have to work at thinking on the noble, just, pure and lovely things. Basically, I would have to search for the Light in that situation and focus on Him. He was there and He used so many people to be His arms and feet caring for and ministering to our family. He was the hope. He still is.
We live in a dark, dark world. The enemy came to "steal, and to kill, and to destroy." (Job 10:10) and he has certainly done that. We have to remember that the enemy does those things, not our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, " I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." He is the Light in the darkness.
I've never craved that Light more than I have this Christmas season. Our world needs it more than ever.
Last night I got home late and was surprised to find that Josh had decorated the outside of our house with Christmas lights. It did more for my heart than I could ever say. I cried. Over Christmas lights, y'all. I felt conflicted. Is it wrong to light up the house and celebrate while others suffer? Others may disagree with me, but I feel that more than ever, we need to celebrate. We need to celebrate the life we have and the people in it. We need to celebrate the Light that God sent to shine in the darkness. And that Light needs to shine in us, as well.