First United Methodist Church

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Devotion: The Light That We Cannot See

This past week, Ryan and I finished watching the mini-series on Netflix called, “All the Light We Cannot See.” It was excellent. It was a book first; maybe you have read it, but it follows two teenagers trying to survive World War II. One teenager is a brilliant and resourceful blind girl and the other teenager is a German orphan pressed into serving the Reich because he has an affinity for fixing and operating radios. They are both connected because they listen to the radio frequency 1310 where they hear “The Professor” share about the goodness of life, the joy, the kindness, the humanity. And how if you look closely enough, you can see the light that no one else can see. The book adapted for TV was beautiful and tragic and deep and reminded me at times of the hope we have in God’s Kingdom to look for the light even when it is hard to find.

While I will never know what it was like for the people in the 1930s and 1940’s living in war-time Europe and trying to resist the evil and oppressive Nazi regime, I do know what it is like to look for the light, even in the darkness. Jesus constantly uses the metaphor of light and darkness to talk about the reality of the world. We all know what it is like to sit in darkness, wait in obscurity, struggle until daybreak and dance when the sun rises. In one way, there is good that happens in the dark. We sleep and rest and our bodies repair themselves. There is quiet in the early hours of morning and at least in my currently reality, a quiet hour or two at night that allows my husband and I to relax and enjoy something on TV. But we never want to stay in the darkness for long; we are people of the light. We yearn to see beyond the shadows and live in the vibrancy of day.

And so as I was watching this show unfold, listening to its beautiful music, swept up in the characters and conflict, I heard the Spirit asking me to put myself in their shoes and also look for the light. When I am weary and overwhelmed by my work and my world, I have to consciously look for the light. When people disappoint and scare me, I have to struggle to see the good. When the Middle East is in conflict again, when Congress can’t agree, when there is one more senseless mass shooting, I angrily demand to see the light. Maybe you can relate. There will always be moments when we find the light more easily, but Jesus says, that what sets us apart is having the compassion, deep faith and spiritual maturity to see the light that no one else can see. And then to point to that light when others only see darkness.

In the famous epilogue of John’s Gospel, we often read these words at Christmas time because they point to Emmanuel, God with us.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  John 1:4-5 NIV

But not only did light enter into this world 2,000 years ago, but light continues to enter into every hopeless and desperate moment every time a person of the light chooses to point to it, over the darkness.

Said another way:

“What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.” 
John 1:4-5 The Message

May we live like people who hope in the God that blazes bright for all to see. May we trust that our darkness, their darkness, culture’s darkness will never last. And may we act, and trust and move and believe that the light of life can never be put out.

If you know it, sing it with me.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine let it SHINE!”