Luke 11:33-36 (CEV)
33 No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a clay pot. A lamp is put on a lampstand, so that everyone who comes into the house can see the light. 34 Your eyes are the lamp for your body. When your eyes are good, you have all the light you need. But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark. 35 So be sure that your light isn’t darkness. 36 If you have light, and nothing is dark, then light will be everywhere, as when a lamp shines brightly on you.
I’m a child of the 1980’s, and although we didn’t have most of the cool or popular toys, one toy that we did have was a LiteBrite.
The idea (for anyone not familiar with them) was that you would put these colour pegs into the holes on the black background and then when you were done you could plug it in and the light would shine through from behind the background and your picture would glow. And for someone like myself who wasn’t particularly artistically inclined, they even included a series of cards that allowed you to punch your colours through the pre-marked designs.
If you did it right – if you were artistic, or followed the instructions reasonably well – then when you turned on the light a beautiful picture would emerge. You could leave messages or pictures glowing in the darkened dining room for when your parents got home late at night, or make picture after silly picture with your friends at your sleepover after the lights were supposed to be out.
But if you didn’t have any electricity, then there could be no light. And if there was no light shining through from behind, there could be no messages, no pictures, no giggles, no way to light up your creativity or your unique take on a house, a car, a butterfly or a beach scene.
And I chose the Lite Brite to talk about this section because it isn’t the stuff fine works of art are made of. A few people over the years have tried, but none of the results I found on Google were particularly fabulous. Lite Brite’s are simple tools to build simple, everyday images. In fact, the very nature of a Lite Brite is to simplify the image down to its most basic of shape and design – the corners on the heart can’t truly be rounded; the detailing on the car will always be limited; and good luck making a face that someone will actually recognize as your friend Jill (unless, perhaps, she’s the only one you know sporting a Mohawk!)
I think sometimes we assume that for God’s light to shine into and through us and back into the world again, that we have to be a fine canvas. That we have to be a work of art worthy of being displayed in the Louvre before there is any point in looking for a light switch to light ourselves up with.
But Jesus doesn’t seem to be too concerned about first becoming something. Instead, he just seems to want us to keep an eye on what goes in, because it’s going to affect what comes back out.
If I let my little brother plug my Lite Brite with pieces of sticky peanut-butter sandwich – however beautiful the picture he made with it – no good would have come of it. If I tried to use bits of coloured construction paper to replace the little clear plastic pegs with, then no light would have shined through it.
We have all of these inputs available to us today. Loud, noisy, fearful voices coming at us from all walks of life – from people making all sorts of claims. But if we fill ourselves with all of this fear, than that will be all we have to offer back to the world.
If we want to have something of value to offer the world we have to look out for love. We have to follow the path of hope. We have to search for the honest and the gentle and the generous and the connected and the transformed and the transformative.
Because when these are the things we are putting into ourselves, these are the things that allow the beauty of our simple, everyday lives to shine brightly into the world we find ourselves in.
- When you think of your life, what kind of pictures do you think you are making with it?
- How do you feel about the pictures you are creating?
- Are they well lit, or are they dim or covered over?
- How could you become more intentional about what you go looking for this week? The media you seek out? The conversations you have? The time you spend walking through nature or the way you watch the people you pass on the street?