My husband and I were recently at an Outback Steakhouse when this happened. We noticed the transition, felt it. But then it passed and our eyes adjusted and we moved on with our conversation. We had been in the light of day, but suddenly we were in the shadows of the evening. No big deal.
But while we may actually enjoy the shift from light to candlelight in a restaurant, the same transition sometimes occurs in our lives and we best take notice when it does.
Today I read in 1 John 1:5-7:
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
These few verses are packed full of truth, but I just found myself asking one simple question in light of this passage this morning:
Are you living in the light or sneaking about in the darkness?
I know the answer to that question without much self-examination. We may grow accustomed to the dark, but if pushed to acknowledge whether or not we're operating in it, most of us know the truth pretty quickly.
I've had times in my past when I was indeed living in the dark. What did that kind of life look like?
- I had secrets.
- I didn't disclose all the facts at times.
- I insisted on privacy and resisted situations where I would need to be transparent.
- I balked at other people's questions -- simple questions like, "Where were you?" or "Who was on the phone?" or "When did you get that dress?"
- I kept my relationships shallow and surfacey.
- I lived in a shroud of guilt and secrecy and shame, but it was my normal so I didn't try to remove it.
But the darkness felt like a warm and comfortable blanket, heavy as it may have been. And if someone, even God, tried to lift it from me and pull me out of that dark cocoon, I would become angry, resentful, self-protective.
In time, however, I did, by the grace of God, step out into the glaring, blinding light again. It was a shock to my senses, uncomfortable and very exposing. But there I stood...until my eyes adjusted and I saw what I'd been missing.
In the light there is:
- fresh air
- fellowship with other believers...healthy people who are alive and living genuine, authentic lives
- peace with God
- wisdom, real wisdom, not that shady, mysterious, twisted stuff we call wisdom but which is in fact nothing but worldly foolishness, vanity and arrogance
- perspective, the big picture
- grace for others
And when you walk in transparency with others and humility with the one true God, you will walk in the light. He is in the light. And it's good here, really it is.
I've found that I have to make a conscious effort to walk in the light. Here's how I stay in the light:
- I keep in constant contact with Christ. I have a daily quiet time in which I read His Word and share with Him from my heart.
- I go to church. I engage with a body of believers and call them my family.
- I confess my sins as quickly as I'm convicted of them. I try my best (and it is difficult) to own them as "my sins" and not brush them off as anything else.
- I work really hard to tell the truth about every little thing. Once again, this is not always easy for me.
- I don't allow myself to hide anything. When I catch myself hiding away some money, stashing away a favorite candy bar, tucking away a little memento even, I stop myself and ask why I'm doing that. If my reasons aren't completely honorable (for instance, I think it's fine to stash away $40 to buy my husband a birthday gift), I don't let myself follow through. I can keep things; I just don't let myself hide them. Once again, I'm sort of a bury-the-bone-in-the-backyard kind of dog, so this one's hard for me. But it's worth it to live in the light.
- I stay accountable about where I'm going. I tell someone when I'm going to the mall, for instance.
- I don't have passwords on my phone, my computer, my television, etc. My family can see what I'm doing in those places. No secrets here.
- I enlist an accountability partner when I find myself struggling with a particular hang-up, e.g. watching too much television, over-eating, spending too much money on clothes, etc.
Let's live in the light!