From a Pastor's Heart

Shining in the Dark

by Chris Lorentz, Pastor of Membership Services & Operations at IMF

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The other night I was sitting on my couch decompressing from the busyness of my day. My day was filled with running kids around, a full to-do list at work, helping out in one of our youth ministries in the evening, grocery shopping, and I had a couple hours of work left to be done for services on Sunday. But I needed just a couple moments to sit in the stillness of our house after dark. It’s amazing how calm our house can be once the chaos of the day fades away and our five little ones are asleep.

So I sat, just me and Charlie, our English Springer Spaniel. As I stared at our tree in the corner of the room, the beauty of the glow mesmerized me. I pulled out my phone and began to try and capture the moment.

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This was the first attempt. Though the light is visible, its dull and almost engulfed by the darkness of the evening. It in no way captured what I could see with my eyes in front of me.

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So, I tried again. As you can see, it did a little better to capture the light in the dark room, but it is blurry and out of focus. It still didn’t capture everything as it glistened in the night.

By this point, doubting my skills as a photographer, I wanted to attempt one more photo. I slowed down, framed the tree in the shot, waiting for the lens to come into focus. I hit the button to capture this moment one last time…

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Success! I was finally able to capture how the tree radiated light in the corner of the dark room. I could see the ornaments that began to sparkle. I had captured what I sought out to capture when I pulled my phone out.

As I stared at these images on my phone, it got me to thinking how we, as followers of Christ are called to reflect Him. He is the Light of the World and His chosen vessel to show the world His light is his bride, the Church.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV) says, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” We, who are followers of Jesus Christ, have had our hearts made to shine with Christ. We are the ones who have been made to show the light in the darkness.

But like my photos above, sometimes our light seems muted by darkness. It is there and may be visible, but barely. The brilliance and wonder of what we have received in Christ is lost. This Christmas season, you find yourself weighed down by the responsibilities and obligations of life. As was the case with the church in Ephesus, you need to return to your first love (Revelation 2:4-5). Remember the hope, love and joy found in our Savior. Let these things guide your interactions and allow you to shine as you once did.

Maybe you find yourself, like the second picture, glowing but blurry. Something is off and you may not even be sure what that is. Take some time to examine yourself, as Paul encourages us to do in 2 Corinthians 13:5. Perhaps there is sin that needs to be confessed (1 John 1:9) or relationships that need to be restored (Matthew 5:23-24). Deal with whatever may be holding you back from completely shining for Jesus as you were created to do.

You may be shining brightly right now, like the third picture. If you are, I encourage you to continue to keep going! Know that what you are doing matters. Because of your faithful service, others are seeing the light of Christ in you, even when you might not realize it.

Wherever you find yourself today, I want to encourage you with two passages from the book of Philippians. First remember, as it says in Philippians 1:6 (ESV) “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God is still working in you and through you and will shine through you more and more as you grow in your knowledge and wisdom. Secondly, Philippians 2:15b-16a (NIV) reminds us that, “you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” May you shine brightly this Christmas season.