Living in the light
When we moved into our new home in Davenport last summer, one of the things we “inherited” from the former owners was a burned-out light bulb. That should not be a big deal. When it’s a small indoor floodlight in a track lighting fixture on a cathedral ceiling 12 feet up in the library, though, changing it becomes more of an issue. So I didn’t change it. There was another can on the track with a functioning bulb and I’ve been getting by with that.
Well, “getting by” might be generous. What I discovered is that poor lighting affects work. I put some files in the cabinets in the library, but since the light has been so poor, I’ve been resistant to using them. It’s just too hard to bend down and get close enough, in the dim light, to figure out which file is which and where things need to go and what should be thrown out. So things accumulate, either in the files or in piles waiting to be filed. It’s not a pretty picture. At least it’s in the half-dark; right?
That seems like the way I deal with my faults and foibles, too. Leave them in the dark. As long as there’s no bright light on them, it’s easier just to ignore them. No one is complaining too much yet about them, right? So, they can just sit. Or persist. Maybe folks don’t really notice them. Maybe I don’t really have to notice them. The half-dark of closed eyes is a great way to look at what I don’t like about myself. Not much I can do when I can’t see very well; right?
Last week the bulb in the second fixture burned out. Now a simple desk lamp was all I had to light the library. It quickly became unworkable. So I got out the tall ladder and bought a couple of bulbs and did the high-wire act to replace the bulbs. (It wasn’t so easy, when one of them broke away from its base as I tried to twist it out….) After a while, both cans had new bulbs, presumably good for 22 years. The library finally has the light it was meant to have – and I can begin to work on cleaning up the files.
In John’s gospel, Jesus twice refers to himself as “the light of the world” (8:12; 9:5). We often think of this as Jesus lighting the path we should follow or shining as a beacon toward which we should move. In this Lenten season, I think of it more as a light that finally lets me see what my half-dark vision of myself has obscured. When I turn to Jesus, I open up to the light I am meant to have. That light of Jesus opens up the dark places in my life and lets me see exactly what needs to be cleaned up and cleaned out.
The bad news in the library is that I have to do the cleaning up. The light only shows the problem. The good news in Jesus is that his light not only shows the problem, it is also the answer to the problem. Leaning into Jesus, receiving the forgiveness and power of the spirit that Jesus promises, letting the light flood into me and through me – this is the way to get my personal junk cleaned up and cleaned out. It’s called living in the light. Bless the Lord!