Light. Small word, big meaning, or rather lots of meanings. Light, it’s the opposite of dark, it’s the antithesis of heavy, it’s pale, or it’s the igniting of something.
Light has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s my word of the year and the main idea of my verse of the year:
“If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be
radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”
Luke 11:36 NLT
Being drawn to light began last fall at a conference. Last year my word was “present,” as in be present where I am and be a gift to those around me. Apparently double entendre words are my thing. My verse, Psalm 46:10a,“Be still and know that I am God,” informed my word. I really focused on the be still part, that’s where the word present came from. I wanted to cognizant of where I was and what I was doing and not have my mind wander off down the anxiety rabbit hole. When my mind heads in that direction I am most certainly not knowing that God is God; I am wrapped up in worst-case scenarios and planning and scheduling my way out of them. Be Still. Be Present. And God will be known.
At the conference that led me to my current word and verse, the seats were arranged by books, chapters, and verses of the Bible. I had a ticket to the conference but I did not have an assigned seat due to an administrative snafu. About a week before the conference I also learned that another woman I knew would be there and we were hoping to sit together. Couple these things together and one (I) would assume the worst: nose bleed seats, alone, for the duration of the day.
My friend and I were given seats together by one of the event staff. Our seats: Genesis 1:3-4. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that is was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.”
Front row, dead center. That’s where our seats were, together. Better than all of my worst-case agonizing. Coincidence? I think not.
During the conference I heard several women speak beautiful and powerful messages of love, grace, and doing the footwork that comes with wanting a life in the Light. The main speaker, Christine Caine, spoke on John 5:1-15, the man healed at the pool of Bethesda. Her main point was that when Jesus asked the man, who had been ill for 38 years, if he wanted to be well, the man responded with an excuse. Not a YES! He responded with an excuse.
How many times is my immediate reaction to an offering of wellness, a better path, a way out of the darkness an excuse? How many times do I respond with a defense rather than an attempt? The truth is often. All too often.
While the conference was enlightening and uplifting, it was the seat assignment that stuck with me. It’s handwritten on a slip of scrap paper. Yet it’s message was anything but trash. “Let there be light.”
As I looked at the paper a few days after the conference I knew it was time to move from being still to into the Light. This knowing is what led me to my verse. I Googled “Bible verses light” and read many until one spoke to me. It was Luke 11:36. I knew it as soon as I read it.
Ironically, it’s not the word light that drew me to that verse. It’s the phrase, “with no dark corners.” In my 12-step program we do this thing where we prepare ourselves to be entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character and then we humbly ask Him to remove them. Dark corners, defects, being ready and willing to ASK to have them brought to light and removed is no small feat. In fact, it’s terrifying.
Bringing to light all the ways in which I have hurt myself and others by being defensive, short, evasive, and closed off is not easy or pleasant. But I knew, I knew, I wanted my dark corners swept clean, my baggage of resentments dropped, so I asked. Humbly, a little tentatively, knowing that asking was going to require work on my part. God is not a genie and there was no puff of smoke revealing a suddenly baggage free me.
Most often my work looks like zero-dark-thirty on the alarm clock, a steaming cup of coffee, and time at my desk to read and write. Time to be still and know that God is doing the work of shining a light a my dark corners. My work also looks like biting my tongue when I really want to argue a point. My work looks like apologizing. It looks like taking ownership of things I have done that hurt others. It also looks like asking for forgiveness and what I can to do make an amends. My work looks like therapy and medication. My work also looks like spending time with my people and learning from them.
My seat assignment ignited something inside me, something that didn’t want to give another excuse, when offered a chance at health. Any path other than asking for help then doing the work paled in comparison. The heaviness of the baggage has been alleviated bit by bit. And each day I move a little further from the dark corners into the Light.