Author’s note: This post has been edited and re-posted with a new song attached. It originally appeared as part of a series on MaryJo Sharp’s study Why Do You Believe That?
Descending down the paved path, our kids skipped beside us, giddy with anticipation. We were on vacation with two other families and the fourteen of us had decided to explore a cave we’d seen advertised on a roadside sign. As we neared the entrance, a park ranger stationed at a booth nearby called out to us, “Do you folks have some flashlights? The cave is a mile long and it gets mighty dark and cold in there.”
We held up a few puny flashlights we’d planned to share among the group. He smiled in a way that let us know how pathetic we were. “It’s up to you, but I’d suggest renting a few lanterns. You’re going to want to keep close tabs on those little ones.” He gestured to the gaggle of kids surrounding us. Pooling together all the cash we had, we rented three lanterns and walked toward the adventure awaiting us at the mouth of the cave.
Within minutes, our previously boisterous kids sidled close to the adults carrying the lanterns. We left the last rays of sunlight that had been shining into the opening as we moved into the depths of the darkness. Between the forty-two degree air and the utter blackness all around us, no one wanted to stray far from the group or the light. Without the lanterns to guide our way, it would have been a frightening (and probably very short) trek into the cave.
Although this adventure happened many years ago, I remembered it vividly as I read the Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)
Put simply, Jesus calls us to be lights that lead people towards Him in a world of spiritual darkness. For Christians, this should be a given. Jesus says that our lights shine when we do good deeds, which in turn brings glory to God. While non-believers may not always affirm or recognize the light Christians bring into the world, they would definitely notice if it were absent.
It is important to keep in mind that our actions often speak more loudly than our words. Consistency of character shows more about us over the long haul.
Many people forget the words others say to them but few forget how another person made them feel. The impression we leave on others opens or closes doors for future opportunities to share our faith. It can take people a lot longer to recognize they are in spiritual darkness than physical darkness.
Our world is full of distractions that comfort or anesthetize people into believing they don’t need God. But, there will come a day when they will recognize their need. If you’ve been there for them all along, they may finally realize the value of the light you have to offer.
So how can you be a light today? Maybe it’s as simple as smiling at someone. Maybe it’s offering a word of encouragement or sharing an inspiring song. Maybe it’s helping with a task or meeting a need. Maybe it’s telling them that God loves them. Each interaction we have with another person provides a chance to make their world a little better and to shine our lights a little brighter.
Let’s apply my story about the cave to our spiritual lives. Imagine that upon accepting Christ, each new believer receives a lantern to carry out into the world where spiritual darkness prevails. When we love people with our actions and then have opportunities to share the truth of God’s Word, we are like the people in the cave holding the lantern. Those fumbling in the dark are drawn to the light and find comfort in its presence. Our world is drowning in spiritual darkness. We have the privilege of holding the lantern and leading them into the light one step at a time.
Click on the link to hear “Glow in the Dark” by Jason Gray. It’s an inspiring reminder of how God uses us to lead others towards His marvelous light.
*Inspired by Jen Wilkin’s Sermon on the Mount, Lifeway, 2014. Week 3