START HERE

Today’s Truth

You are the light of the world

Matthew 5:14

Friend to Friend

The hike up the mountain was a tough one. Flimsy patches of shade dangled from the trees but they were no match for the brutal Pennsylvania mid-summer heat. The rocky, three-mile vertical jaunt was only tamed by the fun being had along the way with the other camp counselors.

We talked. We sang. We laughed.

It was a week before the campers would arrive. All the counselors gathered for training that prepared us for the lessons and activities we would lead kids in all summer long. Caving was one of the optional camp activities so we went as a team of counselors to experience it before we led it.

When we finally reached the entrance of the cave and stepped down into the mouth I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d never been caving before and I didn’t know what to expect, but the benefits of “no more heat” were very appealing to me those first few minutes. We grabbed our flashlights, turned them on, filed in one by one, and began moving down the dark entrance corridor.

After I grew accustomed to the cooler temperature of the cave, I secretly got a bit freaked out by my surroundings. As passageways grew smaller and smaller and we trekked deeper and deeper into the cave, my mind flooded with questions. Is there enough air in here to support life? Who signed me up for this? What happens if we get lost down here? I have to crawl on my belly to go forward… wait, what?

Yeah. For real. It was something else.

I don’t think I’m necessarily claustrophobic, but let’s just say “comfortable and brave” aren’t the words I’d use to describe how I was feeling mid-cave. I strapped on my courage, breathed a steady stream of silent prayers, and stayed close to the friend in front of me as we followed the guide who was leading our group.

An hour or so into the spelunking expedition, he led us into a room. Yes. A room in the middle of a cave. {And, yes. I was thinking about Marshall, Will and Holly… and hissing Sleestaks and Cha-Ka. Because this is normal behavior for those of us born between 1968 and 1972.}

This inner room was big enough for the entire group of counselors. There must’ve been at least 40 of us that day. We all loaded in and chit-chatted excessively.

“Can I have everyone’s attention, please?” Our guide summoned us to silence.

Giggles and conversations trailed off…

“We are in the heart of the cave. This room has no natural source of light whatsoever. Only what we have brought with us: the flashlights. It’s a darkness that is different than anything you’ve ever experienced. To illustrate this, I’d like everyone to switch off your lights.”

Gulp. Okay.

“Try to see the person beside you. You can’t. Hold your hand up in front of your face. Wave it around. You can’t see it. This is a space void of light.”

We oohed and ahhed, and tried our hardest to see… with no success.

Then he lit a match.

One. Tiny. Match.

And the whole room was visible.

Darkness was invaded. Conquered. Shoved back. Forced to flee and acquiesce to one itty-bitty source of light.

And he began to tell a familiar story that stirred my soul in a fresh way.

“A long time ago, on the other side of the world, on a hillside near Capernaum Jesus sat down with a group of ordinary people just like you and me. He looked them in the eye and said to all who believed…

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 5:14-16)

Then he went on to commission us for the work that lies ahead. He challenged us to be mindful of light’s impact and to go back to the campground and be that light all summer long. To the campers. To the counselors. To everyone we came in contact with.

I was gripped.

Gripped by the power of light. Gripped by this word that Jesus said describes me. IS me. Is my purpose… my calling… my commissioning – for that summer… this winter… every day.

Light.

I am the light of the world. Not because of any glittery glow of my own but because I am handcrafted, redeemed, restored, and refined by THE Light of the World who blows away any and all darkness that tries to dominate.

You are the light of the world too. And those around you in your family, your workplace, community, and even in your church are in great need of seeing an un-hidden, unapologetic light that serves and loves others in such a way that they would simply have to respond to God with praise.

Go on now… light it up, today.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, My heart is blown wide open when I think of the power You possess to not just impact, but annihilate darkness with light. Please forgive me for the times when I forget who I am in You and fail to shine. Help me to live and love in such a way that it would cause others to want to know and worship You.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 27:1. What three names is God called by the psalmist in this verse? Should knowing Him as your light, salvation, and stronghold affect the way you live out your faith? Why or why not?

What one thing can you do to live-out the light of Jesus today? Will you do it? {I’d love to hear about it. Click here to tell me your one thing… or tweet it to me: @GwenSmithMusic}

More from the Girlfriends

My new book, I Want It ALL, is now available for pre-order. Here’s the challenge: live beyond ordinary! You and I were born for greatness. Not for the world’s greatness, but for eternal greatness: to know God and showcase God. That’s the message of I Want It ALL. Pre-order yours today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, or your favorite Christian retailer.

One Response to “Light It Up”

  1. Shelly says:

    Thanks so much for this devotional! I needed it today! I attended camp every year as a kid and then later, became a counselor at that same camp. The park where our camp was located also had a small cave for our campers to experience and explore; so this really resonated with me.

    As an American living in China, sometimes life can be a bit of a strain and drain on my energy. I am sometimes tempted to glide by and not let my light shine as brightly as it should. And recently… I have had several of those days.

    There is a common Chinese phrase we have come to adopt and use frequently: 加油 Jia You (pronounced Jah Yo) meaning to add oil/fuel to the fire. It is used as a way of encouraging others to keep going, do better, give extra effort and not give up.
    Today you have reminded me of the impact one small light can have in the world around it. You have encouraged me to 加油 that my light may shine brighter. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8