Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shine On!

Chloe's Christmas Art - 2012
 
 "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."
Matthew 5:13-16
 
My news and social media feeds are breaking my heart in recent days.  The horror and harrowing tales haunting and taunting my already overwhelmed heart.  Between the rampant flu and sickness and the local headlines increasingly filled with senseless crimes, robberies, attempted kidnappings, all too close to our own front door - it's just enough, more than enough, to make you want to lock the doors, close the blinds and never leave home. 
 
Fear begins to creep in and consume, like the darkest of clouds, casting shadows over our tidings of comfort and joy. 
 
Just this morning (or rather, yesterday morning now that it's predawn hours), I'd been thinking we needed to stay on the lockdown to try to keep safe and well.  Yet as I write this, it's the middle of the night and I'm up keeping watch over a sick child. I'm reminded that we cannot run and hide from sickness any more than we can anything else that we fear or dread.
 
If the enemy can't wipe us out completely, he will settle for rendering us ineffective - and this is how it happens, when we ingest the evil and wickedness taking place in the world around us, through the pages of the news, the scrolling through our feeds. We retreat into the quiet places, desiring to construct a place of comfort, a place of safety.
 
We run and we hide and we believe the lies of the enemy that we are somehow in control of our lives, our safety and our comfort.  We allow fear to control us, to hinder us, and ultimately - to render us ineffective. 
 
Jesus knew.

This morning, through His word, He reminded me that He's not surprised by the world around us.  He's always known.
 
He knows still.
 
In Matthew 24, He is forettling the future - which is likely our present - when he said, "Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved."
 
The love of many will grow cold.  Some translations say the love of most.  And He's talking to us.  The believers.  He's warning us that because of the headlines, our social media feeds, the reality of what's happening in the world around us, it will be too much to bear.  Our souls will become disheartened, our hearts will become discouraged, and if we're not careful, if we're not vigilant - the very light within us will succumb to darkness and without it, we too will grow cold. 
 
But the one who stands firm until the end will be saved.  Until the end.  Because the end is coming you know.  One way or another.  For all of us.  When we remember that, we have no choice but to take hold of the only thing that can bring us comfort - the eternal perspective - that this life is not all that there is and ultimately, this world is not our home. 
 
When every part of our natural being longs to retreat into self-constructed barriers and our false sense of security, Jesus commands that we do the opposite. 
 
We stand firm. 
 
We shine on. 
 
We don't run and hide. We don't retreat.  We don't hole up in our homes and ride out the storms and battles raging outside our doorsteps.  We don't fear the increasing violence and wickedness, the sin and the sickness.  We equip ourselves with the armor He has given us, we pick up our swords and we run out into the world.  Why?  Because God so loved it... "He so loved the world that He gave His only son so that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  
 
He loves them and they don't even know it.  Horrific things happen and society cries out, "Where is God?" and here is our answer: "He's here.  He's alive.  He's inside of us."  We are His hands and His feet and we run to those hurting, we hold those who need comforting, we reveal the truth of His word to a lost and dying world that not all that happens to us is good, but God is good and He is for us. 
 
In these worst of times, we have to remember who we are and what we're here for: "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners..." Isaiah 61:1
 
We have to remember that in this world, we will have trouble... and tragedy, and heartache, and despair - but we are called to take heart and trust in the one who has already overcome the world (John 16:33)
 
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Tim 1:7
 
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
 
We arm ourselves with the truth of His word, taking hold of our swords of the Spirit.  We unlock our doors, we go out into the streets, the dark and dangerous and dying world and we shine.

We shine on!
 
Shine On! 
 
Shine on, shine on
And let the others see
You've got your victory
Will you remember me
I was with you in the valley
And up upon that hill
So take just one more step in front of you
For I am with you still
Shine On lyrics - Need to Breathe