December 25, 2013
A Light in the Dark
"Don't get out of the car by yourself. Just honk when you get here and I'll come out."
As I drove down the darkening street I questioned the wisdom of the 13-year-old who had just given me those instructions. Maybe one of the other youth group leaders should have come with me. Wouldn't honking alert the drug dealers in the neighborhood that Jake had warned me about?
Turns out I didn't get an answer to my question. Approaching his house, I squinted in the dim evening light. The silhouette of Jake throwing a football in the air was fading against the night sky.
Christmas carols escaped from my rolled down car window. Songs of the Christ child's birth and God's glory in the highest. Lyrics proclaiming that salvation had come—for me, for Jake, his neighbors, the world.
"Hey buddy. How are ya?" Such a lame question in light of all he'd seen. His father in a jail cell just a few months prior. His father overdosed in his bed last week. His father in a casket three days earlier.
Jake helped me carry the pizzas I'd brought over for his family. Couches brimmed with aunts and uncles; chairs overflowed with young cousins vying for a spot to sit. His mom, Norma, and several friends surrounded the kitchen table. Many had come long distances, weary travellers searching for peace.
These pizzas would ease their hunger, but not their hurt. They wouldn't be truly comforted until they found what they were looking for: a light in the darkness of their grief.
That dismal day as the television flickered in the living room ... as Norma declared she was moving out of that memory-laden house ... as Jake talked about playing football in a different school district ... I prayed, Lord please let them see You.
My heart understood some of their hurt. I've been the one to receive meals. I've made plans to escape the memories and grief. And I've set my sights on what I wished would rescue me from painful circumstances.
Maybe you've longed for that kind of help too? Eagerly looked for a light in the darkness? There was a man, Simeon, in Luke chapter 2 who had the great joy of pronouncing that help had come.
Let's look at Simeon's amazing proclamation: "At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
'Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!'" (Luke 2:25-32 NLT)
Simeon knew that true help, true salvation, wouldn't come through anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ.
That day standing in Jake's living room, I knew the same thing. No matter how many meals were delivered, or whether or not they moved to a new school or neighborhood, without the hope of Christ, they'd always be looking for something else to be their hope, their light. The same is true for me, for you.
Simeon was a man of singular passion: to see the Christ Child with his own eyes and God's glory revealed. He knew that Jesus' birth meant salvation had come for those who would trust in Him and the work He would do when He died on the cross. His whole life would illuminate God's love to a desperate world. For those who believe that He is the Son of God and our risen Savior, we have the hope of eternal life spent with God and peace and joy here on earth.
On this day when we celebrate Jesus' coming to earth, let's really focus on Him. He is our hope in despairing situations. And a joyful light to brighten even the darkest circumstances.
Jesus, You alone are the hope the world needs. Thank You for coming from heaven to earth, from King to servant, from God to babe. Give me a singular passion to see You. Amen.
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Reflect and Respond:
When your hope dips low, pray for help in re-focusing on the great gift of Jesus and who God is.
Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
© 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.