Updated on March 9, 2017
When you are looking for the light
It all started with the fork that someone stuck in the garbage disposal. I flipped the switch before I saw it and the result was not awesome. The mangled piece of silverware was beyond repair. And as I tried to dig the pieces out of the disposal, the washing machine began to sound like a rocket ship landing in the kitchen. I tossed the fork aside. I had hardly fixed the lopsided machine when a kid wandered in anxious for dinner and a ride to youth group. Dinner!?! He was followed by another kid who needed help with a mysterious project that had no directions. And a third who was crying about a cul de sac baseball game. Suddenly, I was having a day.
Now, I would love to tell you that I kindly ministered to all of my children and broken machines with patience and understanding. I would love to recount how lovingly I reacted when my husband came in the door moments later and innocently asked about the dry cleaning I had forgotten.
But that would be a lie.
In real life, I hollered at the kid with the tears, slammed the plates of dinner on the table and flew out the door to try and grab the dry cleaning before the nice man with the lollipops locked up for the night. And it is quite possible that smoke was coming out of my ears.
This isn’t how I intended to react. In fact, just that morning I had read these precious verses in Isaiah:
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you…For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:2-3, 6).
I had been humming Handel’s tune all day. “Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace” The joy of the Lord buried right there in that ancient text and beautiful melody. I had felt the Spirit move right through me as I read it.
But that was all before the garbage disposal, the rickety old washing machine, the needy children and the forgotten errands had snatched the joy right out of my open hands.
Hours later, I sit in the darkness of a sleeping house and stare right into the thick of the blackness. Why can’t I get this right? Why do I let the day push me over? Why do I snap under the weight of all the neediness?
You’ve been there, too, right? The dark of night with the movie reel of the day unwinding behind your eyes. It makes you cringe and shrink back as you watch how it all went down. If only I had. Those “if only’s” mount their attack and suddenly the darkness seems to be winning.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows — light!” (Isaiah 9:2 The Message). God puts those words on my heart as I sit staring at all the ways I messed up the day. But I hear it like this:
You keep looking at the dark places. You keep finding the shadows and thinking that you can make the light come. You can’t. The only way out of the darkness is to turn and look at the light. Turn and look. I AM right here.
Repent. It’s Lent and so this word is right on the tip of my tongue, daily. It means to turn around. Turn completely around.
But what does that look like in real life? Do I put on old rags and cover myself in ashes so that I can remember how needy I am? That would certainly make an impression on my household! But, I don’t think that’s what God’s after.
You see, for me, the darkness comes in the form of a perfect ending. It comes as a vision of how I should make it all happen. And I stare at it all day. The perfect way my kids should behave, the perfect way the house should look, the perfect things that should come out of my mouth.
I should be able to get it right. God expects me to make it good — all of this that he has given me.
But then I don’t. I yell at the kid. I get mad at the mess. I turn a cold shoulder to those I love the most. And I keep on staring right into the face of my own inability to produce perfect.
And God whispers, Repent. Turn Around. Look at me.
“In that day the remnant of Israel will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 10:20).
The light is found in true reliance on Him, not in myself. He is the Way, the Truth and the Light even in the midst of crazy unholy days. He is the holy one who holds all things together when I cannot.
Can I start to see it?
Forks are going to get stuck in garbage disposals, dinner is going to burn, kids are going to fight and I am going to forget something, everyday. But the miracle isn’t in the way it all goes according to the plan.
The miracle is this: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved in to the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one of a kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish” (John 1:14 The Message). All day, everyday, He is Immanuel, God with us, in our places. That’s where the light is. We just have to look.