It is now officially summer. I love summer. I love the warmth of sun on my skin, the colorful growth and plant life around me, and the sound of voices as people are outside living life. I appreciate the simplicity of walking out my door without dragging a coat, scarf, and layers that never seem to be comfortable no matter what I do, and being able to simply open the door of my car versus brushing it off, warming it up, or on really bad days. . . digging it out. In general, I prefer sweat to shivers or snot (my nose pours this out in anger toward the cold within a few seconds of me being out there usually). I would rather have mosquito bites itch for a few days than itchy, dry skin for months just longing for warm sunshine days to come. Summer has its cons, but it has its pros, and I appreciate them. As a child I remember dreaming of carefree summer days to come while sitting at uncomfortable desks in sterile classrooms with not even a window or glimpse of the “outside world” in sight. As an adult working 11 hour shifts, during winter months I would drive to work in the dark and get off in the dark, restricting my only sunlight exposure to the occasional view through a hospital hallway. I do not prefer to live this way.
The sunlight has so many benefits. Of course, lying out in the sun for hours in vanity or laziness are bad ideas. Blistering skin is a bad idea. And since anything can be misused, I do not want to condone anyone making unwise choices for skin or physical health this summer on account of this reading. But, just a little research will tell you how our western “indoor” culture is significantly deprived of sunlight in general. Sunlight helps us synthesize Vitamin D which is essential for so many bodily functions I won’t even begin to name them. Sunlight increases oxygen in our blood, lowers blood pressure, and builds the immune system. Sunlight improves our mood. In fact, areas of the world where there is more sunlight compared to cloudy northern climates further from the equator have significantly less diagnoses such as multiple sclerosis, ADHD, mood disorders, sleep disturbances, etc. There are many known benefits to sunlight, and I find that concept to be quite spiritually relevant.
When I was in college, I remember being paired up with a girl from my college dorm Bible study, and we were asked to come up with the lesson for the following week. She said her idea was “Let’s talk about light. It comes up a lot in the Bible it seems”. So, we had a week to casually research light references in the Bible we thought and come up with a little lesson of some sort…..and we realized by the middle of the week that we were not going to even touch the tip of the iceberg of what is there in the Bible in one study. Light is contrasted with dark throughout scripture, and darkness or a lack of light is correlated to evil numerous times. The light is good stuff. God’s son is the light. We are to walk in the light. We are to turn from darkness. So, I can only provide a drop in the bucket of the idea of light here today. . .but here are some things to think about:
““You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. (John 12:35, NIV)
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)
We can be overtaken by darkness and lost. We need to intentionally seek and follow the light. The light has been lovingly and freely given to us by our Creator and sovereign God. We don’t know where we are going if we aren’t following the light of his son, Jesus. And, we aren’t following Jesus if we aren’t living like Jesus lived. If we are followers of Jesus, we are also a source of light to others.
“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, NIV)
Ultimately, we need to identify the contrast between light and dark by believing the light is good and turning away from evil. We are called to accept the light God has provided through the forgiveness and salvation made possible by the gift of His son, our Messiah. As part of that belief, we are instructed to follow Jesus and in turn bring glory to our Father. Also, by doing this, we shine a light for others who are lost, just waiting for a glimpse of that summer sun on a cloudy, wintry day.
I appreciate so much those who have been a light to me on this earth, and those who have taught me of a day to come. One without tears and mistakes and disappointments. A day so bright we won’t even need the sun at all according to Revelation! Followers of Jesus long for that day where we can reign together with him in his kingdom, but as we wait for it with open arms, let’s not forget to continually seek the light, love the light, and shine the light.