Annie Dillard, the famed American author and poet once wrote, “If you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is required. But the stars…they are always there, they neither require it nor demand it.” It made me wonder if we treated life the same way.
Not too long ago, we bought a piano having 84 keys. It is a classic piece that adorns the bright corner of our living room. Regrettably, it has been gathering dust, over the months, unused. Although it serves to fulfil what it’s made for, it is rendered useless, without trained fingers. The piano does not see any need of it nor demands it. The artist does, if he wants to create beautiful music. What is true of the stars and piano is also true of ‘divine light.’
The Word of God affirms in Ephesians 5:8 – Live as children of the light. To live as children of the light is a mandate. It is a battle against the forces of darkness. It is a choice. It is only when we choose intentionally, and are determined, to overcome darkness that we can illuminate the world around us.
The Spotlight of the World
It is no secret that we live in world of glamorous iconic figures on whom the spot light is continually turned on. We are lured into their picture perfect lives and we pursue their seductive lights of power and popularity. How often are we tempted to imitate their lifestyles only to be kept from true light? In a self driven world, how often have we selfishly tried to shine our own lights and so ignore the needs of our neighbour?
The light of Christ is the light within. God is not found in the spotlight.
If anything, His light radiates in humble love and service, to the seemingly unlikely places, among the most unlikely people. This is what we learn from the saints. They were bright lights, not where the spotlight shone, but rather where darkness lingered, consumed and encroached the soul.
This is where ‘our’ light is also needed. The light that we have received at our Baptism is for the world. It is needed to illuminate paths of those weak and forgotten, those who are marginalised and have no voice, those grieving losses and those who have wandered away from faith.
Where is God calling you to cast light?
Living in the Light also means searching inward to see our inclination and appetites for the spotlight. It means looking at ourselves honestly, critically, to check for dark spots, for parts of our lives that we attempt to hide in the shadows and ignore. It means letting go of the things which control us. It means looking at ways we compare and compete and so diminish our uniqueness. It means choosing the path of truth – not the path that makes us feel good.
Christianity is not behaviour modification. Christianity is transformation. It is Influence.
It is becoming luminous with the light of Christ and then serving the world with this light. But how can we serve the world with the light of Christ if we are seeking Divine light and the world’s spotlight at the same time?
The Discipline of Choosing Light
Every choice we make strengthens the core of who we are and who we are meant to be. Therefore every choice requires intentionality and discipline. It demands daily dying to the flesh. When we make choices opposed to God’s word — we resist the work of the Holy Spirit and unleash darkness. Apathy and procrastination are killers. It is like sitting before the piano with trained fingers and wondering if at all we can create music. With passage of time, the memory of training fades and so do skills.
Choosing to live in the Light becomes easier when we live a life connected by prayer and communion. Regular personal prayer and sacramental life bring clarity to our vision and discernment in the choices we make. We can’t always deliberate over every choice we make. Some decisions are made in an instant. Some are made without any thought given to them. But when we live a life that is in communion with God, you will always be in tune with His Spirit. The light of His wisdom will protect us from making wrong choices for He will always lead us into all truth (John 16:13).
Jesus, our brightest Light
Jesus is the Light of the world. He is the brightest star that floods even our valleys with light by swallowing our darkness. When He walked that long laborious road to Calvary, He overcame darkness on our behalf.
Jesus swallowed our darkness by choice. “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17–18). Jesus was thinking of you and me when He chose to swallow that darkness. Only in the great grand exchange of infinite love, lies the freedom from darkness we all desperately long for.
Even in the midst of staggering suffering, love triumphs and light has the final word. Because of this victory, it will never be too late to choose light.
How might Jesus’ love motivate your choice today? Are you afraid to come to the Light? Are you hiding in the shadows with shame and guilt? Do you wonder what life might look like if you chose the light? The Holy Spirit is waiting to empower you to live in the light as He is in the Light so you can shine bright like the stars and show the way.
Living in the Light is a choice which can sometimes overwhelm us, especially if we are experiencing a season of despair and defeat. But we can start small. Tackle one thing at a time. Make a good choice, and then choose again and again until you see that choice transform into habit, into a virtue.
This is what sainthood is all about – stepping out into the light and choosing to live as children of the light. And then continuing to choose. So do that, make a choice today. And then keep choosing. Keep shining!