Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: The Light

Light of the World
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 
–John 8:12 (NIV)

When you're shopping around your book, movie, or even a technical gadget, the experts tell you to be prepared to give an "elevator pitch." That means being able to explain your main idea in the time that it takes for the average elevator ride.

What would be the elevator pitch for Christianity?

The immediate answer is John 3:16, of course. It's the heart of the Gospel, after all. But to get the idea of what it's like to be a Christian, not just to become one, I think John 8:12 does a pretty good job. Boiled down to its essence, Christianity is being brought out of the darkness and into the light. It's beautiful imagery, moving from darkness into the light. In practice, though, what does it mean?

It is now December, and for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the world seems darker as winter approaches. The days are getting shorter and colder. Even the shadows grow longer due to the altered angle of the sun. Gardens and lawns get browner every day, and trees have been reduced to stick figures. It's why our northerly ancestors came up with so many traditions about the winter solstice. They were in darkness, and they craved the light. We need (as they needed) the light that doesn't change with the seasons, the light of eternal life that Jesus Christ offers through repentance and faith in Him as Savior and Lord.

Earlier in this story (John 8:1-11), Jesus was at the temple at dawn, when the people brought to him a woman to be stoned for adultery. Jesus tells the crowd, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." None do, and they leave until only Jesus and the woman are left. Jesus says, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus replied. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Can you imagine how she must have felt? Not only has she escaped a death sentence, but God has declared that she is no longer condemned. He sets her free, telling her to leave the life that brought her to that place.

Forgiveness frees! I would wear that on a T-shirt. Redemption stories are my favorite, both to read and to write. That moment of liberation when the person gives up their sin and throws themselves upon the mercy of Jesus is pure beauty. So is the moment when someone gives up the bitterness of an old wound and forgives the one who gave it to them. Forgiveness even frees the forgiver! The divine forgiveness of sins frees completely.

There are times when we don't feel the light, times when we don't feel free at all. Even in the life of a faithful Christian, some struggles leave us fumbling in the dark. But the difference is that it only looks dark. The light of Christ's grace and mercy is always with us, even when we feel surrounded by darkness, struggling to hold onto our faith.

Believer, whatever it is that has a hold on you, weighing you down, let the light shine on it. Open your heart to God in prayer and let those burdens go. You don't have to be strong enough in that moment to let it go, but at least let the light in. Give the burden a name, confess it has a hold on you, and Jesus will lead you by hand deeper into His light.

Let's Pray: Father God, help us to keep our feet on the straight and narrow path that leads to Heaven. Help our eyes to stay fixed on Jesus. Enable our hearts and minds to focus on Your plan for our lives. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen. 

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction. 

She began her writing career at the age of eleven, filling a sketchbook with poems and short stories. After publishing a few short pieces in her college’s literary magazine she took a long hiatus during which she embarked on a few different careers, got married, had three kids, and renovated an old barn masquerading as a house.

Her most recent work, The Redemption Road, finished the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty. She and her family live along the coast of New England.

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