Witness

“. . . your light must shine . . .”

 

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You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

The sun was starting to set behind the clouds last week when I stopped to take this picture.  It caught my attention because it seemed like the sun was telling the clouds that they could not stop it from sharing its light with the world.  In the photo, doesn’t it look like the sun is breaking out of the clouds with one last glorious display of light before setting behind the horizon for the night?  It’s almost as though the sun is saying, “Yes, the darkness of night will be falling very soon, but remember, I’ll be back!” 

Night follows day, but day follows night.  Funny, isn’t it, how easily we forget in the midst of darkness that light follows darkness.  Sometimes it’s difficult to remember the light and the life-giving power it imparts when the darkness stretches on more than usual.  People in darkness crave light.  They need light.  They look for light.  If they cannot find light, they might well decide to give into the darkness in one way or another. 

Darkness can come in many forms, everything from mental illness like depression to unhealthy (even criminal behaviors).  In the darkness of mental illness the individual needs to see there is light.  They need to see others have walked in the darkness and found the light.  They need to see there is understanding from others and options for healing, instead of misunderstanding, judgement, and condemnation.  They need to see light. 

Many feel trapped by darkness in other ways.  They may feel trapped by their own unhealthy habits and behaviors.  They may feel trapped by social and economic situations.  They may feel trapped in abusive relationships.  In all these situations, the first step out of the darkness is to see light.  If there is no light to be seen, then darkness rules and darkness wins.  They need to see others have battled darkness and found the light. 

In the quote from Matthew above, Jesus makes it clear to his followers that they are critically important for those who live in the darkness and need to see that there is light.  He tells the followers, “You are like light for the whole world,” and, “your light must shine before people.”  My sense is that it’s easy for us to forget how important it is for our lives to show the light of God’s forgiveness and healing – the light of God’s hope.  The word we need to remember is witness

In my walk of discipleship I need to witness first to myself.  In my own times of darkness I need to remember that God’s light of healing and hope is available and will follow the darkness.  I also need to be a witness to others in darkness.  I need to be God’s light for others by sharing with them how God has seen me through the darkness.  I need to help them remember that light follows darkness.  Witnessing to the power of God’s light is not a passive process.  It requires presence with the other and interaction.  Without that presence and interaction it’s easy for the one in darkness to think that those walking in the light have simply been lucky enough never to have known darkness. 

In our worship and other times of gathering I offer folks the opportunity to witness by sharing their own stories of darkness and light.  I’m convinced that it’s a vitally important part of our journey together.  We need to hear the good news that God’s love in Christ can bring light to darkness in very real ways.  What’s your story?  Are you ready to share it?  Someone in darkness needs to be reminded that God’s light can follow the darkness.  I pray that God will give me the courage to witness.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Gary
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

 
Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.



My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.

 

 

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24
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~ by revgenelson on August 21, 2013.

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