The Devastation of Light

God created light and it was good.
Until it shines on my dining room chairs and shows the dust I didn’t notice when the room was dim.

Some might argue that this just demonstrates the essential goodness of light. It exposes uncleanness.
Have pity. I am much too busy to dust my chairs.
A little dust never hurt anyone.
The dust cloth makes my hands feel funny.
And in a few hours the sun will move away and leave me and my dust in happy ignorance of each other. Till tomorrow.

Another complaint about light.
These lovely spring lights. See how they glow in the dark?

But that attention-grabbing sun with its ‘I can shine brighter than you’ beams all but
obliterates my pretty little pastels. You can’t even tell the bulbs are lit where the light hits them.

Light claims all glory for itself. Shine in the darkness, I’m told. Oh, sure. But the greater light, the I Am light, gets the glory while my tiny glow is virtually unnoticed.

Pitiless Light doesn’t let me sit at the foot of the cross in darkness, wallowing in tears and  ‘I knew this was too good to be true’ wailings.
It bursts out of an empty tomb and beckons me gleefully. “Arise! Shine! Your light has come! God’s face is shining on you! The day is at hand so cast off the deeds of darkness!”

I loiter in the shadowlands, weeping.
No, I know that sin has won. Might as well remain clinging to it.
Reluctant to move, because I also know the Light is merciless.
Oh, the dust I have accumulated! It will all be seen!
My feeble attempts at luminescence? Swallowed up in the devastation of the totality of Light.

Who knew Light had knowledge, and tenderness, and mercy? Who knew Light first shines on my dusty, dried-up frame, then outshines my feeble attempts to light my own way, and finally burns away the sin and separation and love of all that is dim and despairing? It grabs hold of my hand and drags me into its searing warmth and cleansing fire. What can I do? Light wins, and I learn, to my shock, that so do I.
“Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.”
Micah said it first but I am right there with him—half a syllable behind but heartfelt and grateful for lessons in spring lights and sermons in dusty dining room chairs.

Already. Not Yet.


My pastor is fond of the phrase ‘already, not yet.’
We’re new creations in Christ already, but bits of the old man’s skin  cling to us. Sometimes entire swatches haven’t yet shed. Oh wretched people we are. Just when we think we have this Christian life figured out we get slapped upside the head with God’s requirements and see how short we fall. Not perfect yet.

Christ already came, bringing His Kingdom. But not every citizen of the Kingdom has been gathered in. Not yet.

Heaven is already ours. But we’re not there yet. We’re still in the messy, contentious, polluted, violent world that, unlike the one to come, is filled with war and death and tears. Lots and lots of tears.

Speaking of not yet: ever notice how warty the body of Christ is? Sure, the church is already the bride, already hands and feet etc. But does it look lovely and pure and fully functional?
Not yet.

Since the ‘already’ doesn’t look nearly as good as the ‘not yet,’ hope can by mighty hard to come by.
Another day hearing about hatred and its Pandora’s Box of evil deeds, another season seeing the earth we’re supposed to steward laid waste,
another Sunday wondering why we didn’t get to choose who would be our siblings in Christ because this bunch ain’t cutting it.
Another nightfall of self-examination and muttering over the ugliness in our hearts that refuses to heed the eviction notice.

Seems like hope for the ‘not yet’ is too much to hope for.

I live in the land of four seasons. Six months of winter coming, staying, and leaving, almost-three months of mosquito-spawning humidity, and the four remaining months divided haphazardly between autumn and spring.

March is an odd month in Four Seasons Land. Technically spring begins toward its end. March displays flashes of fine-weather promise interspersed with dour skies and spiteful snowfalls. After beguiling us with a glimpse of bare earth and its awakening aroma, songs of birds returned to the hearty climate, the feel of balm on one’s skin instead of ice, March retreats to do what it does best. It disappoints.

We get discouraged. We think we cannot hang on one. More. Day. Spring has to come or we will go absolutely, spectacularly mad. Underneath the gnawing need for spring to appear right this minute though, is the realization that it is closer than it was last month, last December, yesterday.

With no definitive glimpse into the mind of God, I still speculate if March is one way He chooses to help us comprehend the not-yet-edness of our existence. The landfill a few miles from my house grows by the day. Birds still see fit to nest along the top. My siblings in the body of Christ squabble one minute, rally round each other in deeds and prayer the next. We are family you know. Against all earthly odds Christ has sustained and nourished this body for two thousand years.

I went to bed last night more aware than ever of the hopelessness of my sin nature.
I woke up this morning more aware of, more humbled by, and more exhilarated because of grace. The Kingdom is nearer at hand now than it was yesterday.

It may not be spring yet, but the robins are already singing outside my window.