One of my favorite things to do at Christmastime is to sit with all the lights off in the living room except the Christmas tree. It’s a great time to relax and unwind, or in the case of this morning, to wake up gently with the warm glow of colorful lights. It’s also a time to remember. Our tree is filled with ornaments with a story. Some Mom has had since childhood, others acquired through the years at places we’ve visited or to remember a benchmark of our lives. The memories bring to mind all I have for which to be thankful, and also remind me to pray for those I love, or those I may not even know who are not enjoying the beauty I am this season.
This year our tree has twinkle lights. The lights dance through the tree, adding character and dimension. As I study the movement of the lights I realize that they are really just blinking lights scattered throughout the tree, causing a whimsical effect that is rather mesmerizing. Since each light goes out at a different time the tree is never dark and there isn’t an absence of light. In fact, my attention is drawn more to the tree than other years because of the unique pattern.
As I pondered the tree this morning I thought about how God calls us to be like these twinkle lights in a couple different ways. First, we are called to be God’s light to a world so filled with darkness. Jesus directs us to this in Matthew 5:14-16.
You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14 & 16 (NIV)
How can we be that light? By allowing God’s love and goodness to shine through us. A smile to a stranger, a kind word for a store clerk or a small gesture of assistance or concern to someone you encounter shines a light in the darkness of the world. So often people are concerned with only themselves and in a hurry to get to where they are going or move on to the next agenda item that acts of kindness sometimes get pushed aside. But these acts are never overlooked by those who receive them. Think of a time someone smiled at you when you were navigating your way through a busy store, or allowed you to have a prime parking spot they could have taken. How did that affect the rest of your day? Similarly, not only will the light you shine impact the recipient in the moment, but often it will provide a warm glow for some time.
The other lesson I got from the twinkle lights this morning is the importance of preferring others. If each of the twinkle lights didn’t stop shining for a moment the tree would have a different look to it, and wouldn’t draw my eye to them the same way.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
Similarly, when we step aside, keep our mouths shut and encourage others to shine in the ways they are gifted, it allows God to be more effective in His work. This scripture is not suggesting that we shrink back and belittle our own abilities, but to not always need to be the center of attention or have things done our way. God has created us to work together and He is pleased when we combine our gifts with others to reach more people with the message of His love and salvation. Sometimes God even has a blessing in store from us through someone that will be missed if we don’t let them shine.
We are so close to Christmas, and the days often get more rushed and we may become less thoughtful of others and more centered on ourselves. Let’s remember the lessons from the twinkle lights as we encounter others through the next few days. Be God’s light, and allow others to shine theirs as well.
Blessings and peace to you!