By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
We’ve often heard God’s Word described as a story: A tale of love, rebellion, redemption, and restoration. The setting began in a perfect place, the Garden of Eden, where the first humans walked in harmony with the Creator. Yet, like all stories, there came conflict that changed everything and introduced suffering. Many people focus on the suffering but overlook the loss of being intimately connected to the Creator. Unlike the stories we read in books, the Author of our world, our story, doesn’t control or direct all the actions of the characters or even the plot twists, but He does influence, guide, encourage, and even intervene. Like other authors, God writes with an ending in mind, and throughout this grand story, He has been giving readers a glimpse of a heroic intervention and a grand finale that will result in good winning and evil being defeated.
This epic is a grand tale, but, unlike other stories, this one is still being written and characters are continuously being added. At birth, each person has a part in God’s story. Their journey ties into the entire epic. Their failures, their triumphs, their joys, and their sorrows are intricately woven, especially when a person embraces God’s lifeline of redemption and grace through Jesus. Some don’t realize their role in His story, while others respond to His light and step valiantly into their role.
Our stories may vary from person to person, but we all have a few things in common. We’ve all suffered, we’ve all failed, and we’ve embraced the life-changing grace given us through the actions of sacrificial love by Jesus.
Jesus is often described as the light of this world. In God’s story, we see that Jesus shines brightly amongst people because His actions and words are so profound. He is a living example of agape love, given without conditions, seeking the best for others, willing to sacrifice His own needs and desires, and life-giving. He is full of God’s wisdom, and His words continuously remind us of who God is and who we are. That is light as described in the Bible, which results in loving like Jesus through actions and life-giving words, especially as we hold out God’s truth, His Story.
As we embrace grace and follow in the steps of Jesus, we, too, are given the light and equipped through the Holy Spirit. We are exhorted to not hide this light, but to, instead, shine brightly so all might see (Matthew 5:16). Ephesians 5 gives us a more direct way to shine by encouraging us to “Imitate Christ, in everything you do…Live a life of love.” Chapter 5 goes on to say, “…you have light from the Lord. So, live as people of the light. For this light within you produces only what is good, right, and true.” Luke 11:36 sums this up the best by saying, “If you are filled with the light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”
We are more than a character in God’s story. We are an extension of His story. We are His ambassadors and witnesses, His living characters, and His children who show people the way into God’s story of grace, love, and redemption. Our story is filled with a past, present, and future. Our past shaped us, and our future in God’s eternal kingdom is set, but our present gives us the opportunity to ensure this God-given light is shining brightly in all aspects of our lives. Our present is a key chapter in God’s story. Our shining light guides others into this same epic to share in life with God now and in the future.
Your light shines in your role as a parent, a spouse, a friend, a coworker, and even as a neighbor. Whether you are smiling at a child, reading a story, changing a diaper, or chatting, you are shining. Ephesians 5 ends with the best advice of all: “make the most of every opportunity.” What if we committed to loving others like Christ to the best we can, inviting the Holy Spirit to help? Would we radiate like a floodlight? Look for opportunities to set your plans aside, turn off any preset conditions tied to your love, and don’t worry if your dinner is getting cold, but instead be available, share a loving word, a loving touch, and a listening ear. It would be intense, it would be challenging, you may even fail sometimes, but it would be worth it. By sharing our story and love of Christ, we can share a legacy that leads others out of the darkness into the light.