There’s this house that I drive past every evening and their Christmas lights are still brightly shining for all the world to see. I saw them only moments ago before I arrived home.
Keep in mind that today is Friday, January 30th, and more than a month has elapsed since Christmas day.
Every once in a while I get a glimpse of the guy who lives at this house as he tinkers with the car out front, or diligently sweeps the driveway or carefully trims the hedges. He is always wearing an orange and blue hooded sweatshirt, so there was clearly no mistaking the fact that I was standing two people behind the Christmas Lights Guy at the store the other night, as his hoodie easily gave him away. I thought about approaching him and then decided against it, then reconsidered saying hello to him in the parking lot, but before I could even make up my mind he had beat me to the punch.
“Nice night tonight,” he offered.
Let me put it to you this way: Here was the nicest guy on the planet, hoodie and all.
Just a good guy. In a nutshell we gabbed for a few minutes and I finally got up the nerve to ask about the lights and he didn’t hesitate in first letting out a hearty laugh before explaining that the family got a bit of a late start with the holidays this time around because someone had surgery in December, so they were enjoying the lights for a little while longer this year. Then he said something that has me thinking quite a bit on this rainy Southern California evening:
“I just like that we are the only house around with them still glowing. It’s nice to see all those lights shining on a dark and chilly evening.”
And then he was gone.
There is no sugar-coating the fact that I spend a good chunk of my existence these days co-existing right alongside non-Christians, and whether they intend to or not is irrelevant, but they openly mock Jesus and Christianity with words and actions in my presence every day. And while there is a part of me that wants to scream, run away or maybe even get angry I instead mourn on the inside and have sympathy for those who are not in a right relationship with Jesus Christ today.
It astounds me that there are so many people who easily acknowledge the fact that there is a God of the universe who created all things, but they leave their acknowledgement of the Almighty right there, perhaps a little afraid to take it to the next level, which is to acknowledge that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that His Word tells us that Jesus came to earth as a man to take the punishment for all mankind as a love offering – a gift – and that salvation and eternal life in heaven is for those who acknowledge this sacrifice and accept this gift.
But I digress.
Each day presents a complicated walk into a world in which I am living in exile. I am a man of many fears and apprehensions, yet I face these difficulties knowing that I am strengthened by the promised Holy Spirit, emboldened by the very presence of God in my life, and encouraged by His still, small voice. Triumph over the troubles of each day is not mine though. The victory is the Lord’s. Yet the world is a dark place, and to co-exist with so many who are rejecting Him and accepting instead the ruler of this world, who is crafty, menacing and devoted to stealing souls away to hell, is to live in tumultuous times where I question my placement in time and space. But I know that there is no coincidence that God has me where He has me. It is a part of His almighty, perfect plan for my life. There is reason and purpose in everything that His sovereignty dictates in my life, and so I stand before corrupt men and women each day with a smile on my face and hope in my heart and wait.
I wait for the questions and opportunity to give an answer for the hope that I have, and thank God for the opportunity to extend the same grace and mercy that has been bestowed upon me even though I don’t deserve it.
This is my opportunity to be different. I’ve always been taller than most, but I am not talking about being physically different, no, I’m talking about just being different.
Sincerely different from how the world would have me be.
And so it is with that in mind that I’ve been thinking about my new friend in the orange and blue hoodie who put it so poetically when he told me about the joy that he derived from seeing the glow of his Christmas lights on a cold, dark night.
Matthew 5:16 tells us to Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
So I will continue to live this life of exile knowing that with purpose, love, grace and mercy I set out each day on a mission to let my light shine before those who would reject the plans of God, and with each opportunity – even though my flesh may fail – may each step, every word and one hundred percent of my actions glorify my Father in heaven.
It is nice to be a light shining in a dark and chilly world.