Revue: The Light of the World

“Shadow Proves the Sunshine,”© Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

After my mom died in 2008, I dragged myself though the necessary notifications to banks, retirement boards, and credit card companies.

One customer service representative stopped me mid-sentence.

She immediately expressed her sympathy, and explained that she had lost her mother just 1 1/2 years before.

“Beware, because grief’s a funny thing, “she said. “It kinda sneaks up on you when you don’t expect it.”

Holidays, she further acknowledged, had been the most difficult. She related her experience: she seemed to be doing rather well, returning to normal life. She stopped at the local supermarket to pick up items on her Christmas grocery list.

“Grief’s a funny thing…It kinda sneaks up on you when you least expect it.”

As she stood in the produce department examining oranges, the unthinkable happened. One of the oranges began to tumble to the floor, causing a sheer avalanche of orange.

She stooped to pick up the fruit, and at that moment, a torrent of tears broke loose. Hurriedly, another woman left her cart, and ran to help.

“It’s okay,” the woman encouraged, “Don’t worry about the oranges.”

My new friend recalled her own response. “It’s not about the stupid oranges,” she blurted.

And it wasn’t.

In fact, it usually isn’t.

For many, tension during the Christmas season frequently runs so much deeper than a foiled “to do” list.

I don’t know quite why, but it seems to me that during a season filled with all things that glitter, sparkle and shine, human hearts become more fragile. In my humble opinion, an avalanche of heartbreak threatens too many people.

Instead of being wrapped by joy and peace, many find themselves stumbling through anxiety, fear, grief, and confusion And with each day, it is simply enough to put one foot in front of the other or to stumble through the numerous holiday events.

Perhaps, you have periodically found yourself in such a place. Quite honestly, I’ve been there on several occasions.

Such darkness, in moments like these, seems all the more overwhelming since it contrasts sharply with our Christmas card-expectations.

When our post boxes are filled with annual letters enumerating joys and triumph’s of our friends and family; when Christmas movies and television specials deliver warm, fuzzy images of love, happiness and plenty, it seems a cruel twist of life that anyone should grieve, suffer heartbreak or live through tragedy.

And so we strive to create a season of beauty; to warm the winter of the soul. Christmas is supposed to be, after all, a season of hope and miracles.

Funny that. We scramble to grocery shop, bake, gift wrap, and recreate that perfect Christmas setting when actually, the first Christmas had little resemblance to those cozy, Dickensian, fireside images that we hold so dear.

“It’s not about the stupid oranges,” she blurted.

Luke 2 unfolds during a dark time in the life of Israel. The golden years of David and Solomon were distant memories.

Yahweh had been silent for 400 years. The heroic era of the Maccabees had come and gone, and now a pagan empire once again oppressed Israeli freedom. For God’s people, the times were uncertain.

You could say that George Orwell’s concept of “Big Brother” generally fit their situation. Rome kept a close watch and demanded a census.

For this reason, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. All were to be accounted for, and exorbitant taxes would be required. The mighty Roman empire must be financed.

Of course, there are no accidents with God. God times everything for His purpose.

Even the Christ’s birth announcement to a group of rag-tag shepherds reflects that moment in Israel’s history. Significantly, the shepherds “were keeping watch over their flocks by night.” Israel’s glory days had passed; night had settled.

However, despite the darkness, despite God’s seeming silence, the messenger came.

God’s glory shattered the night sky and brought good news to men who fulfilled lowly tasks within the enormous empire.

The shepherds actually may have been most crushed by those in power. They were poor and of low social standing. They sat in fields on the outskirts of society. They had little hope for a better life.

In Roman culture, they were all but forgotten men: vulnerable and practically invisible. Their world was certainly dark.

Actually, the first Christmas had little resemblance to those cozy, Dickensian, fireside images that we hold so dear.

While wealth is not an issue for the Magi, their inclusion in Matthew’s account of Christ’s birth reflects another kind of darkness. These wise men sought truth; God’s revelation had gone dark. There had not been a prophet in Israel for a very long time.

The age was dark. Yet, the Magi followed a bright start in order to seek and find “the Way, the Truth and the Light,” (John 14:6).

Yes, Abba thinks of everything. He arranged every detail to herald the coming of the Light of the World, (John 1: 1-12).

And lest we miss the symbolic significance of light and darkness in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel narratives, God inspired John to open his account with the words, “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness…” (John 1:4-5).

Thus, through our Christmas candles and electric lights, God’s truth finds its way into contemporary culture. And who doesn’t enjoy all the sparkle?

But in order to fully appreciate the beauty of our neighbors’ holiday decor, we bundle up and make our tour after sunset. Obviously, Christmas lights do not shine as brilliantly in daylight.

And so it is with life on this side of eternity.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The shadow proves the sunshine.”

In other words, when our days are darkest, we most clearly see the Light of the World.

Darkness shrouds all else. But Christ, the living Word of God, overcomes the darkness, and, in fact, scatters life’s shadows.

Indeed, when all seems lost, when heartbreak oppresses, our Savior shines, (Isaiah 61:1-3a).

He is the Lamp for our feet and the Light for our path (Psalm 119:105). And His grace will lead us safely home.

Yeah, that’s right. Christmas isn’t really about picture-postcard moments. It’s the story of God’s Light overcoming darkness (John 8:12).

Thus, we lay our Frankincense and Myrrh–burial spices and grief–before the King of Kings. He desires just one gift– our hearts… as fractured and shattered as they may be.

Our days may not always be “merry” but Abba has promised, “I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do And I will not leave them undone,” (Isaiah 42:16).

Undoubtedly, in this world, darkness invades every life– even during the Christmas season.

Nevertheless, Christmas celebrates the coming of the Light, the hope of every nation.

Yes, God’s attention to detail–His choice of setting for His great salvation story–reminds me that despite any heartbreak this world may bring, the Promised One will illuminate the lives of His children.

And His Light ultimately overcomes all darkness.

“Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life,'”~ John 8:12

75 Replies to “Revue: The Light of the World”

  1. POWERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Oh, I’m so glad that it resonates, Anthony. When one is writing, it is difficult to know how something will be received. Thank you with all my heart for your thoughtful and kind encouragement! You are truly “Barnabas.” Merry Christmas, my thoughtful and encouraging friend!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t know why but I am receptive to just about everything that you write and that doesn’t happen very often. And, just like you have indicated Lynn, Christmas is a time of the year when we reflect on the miracle of Jesus’s birth and all the love and sorrow that it entails. And then there is the family connotation, which again brings back both memories of times past, including loves that we may have lost and the loves that we have and hold dear now. Sometimes when I hear some of the Christmas carols being played, I get tears in my eyes and I really don’t know why other that I am engulfed in the realization that love, God’s wondrous love and love that we experience with others, both past and present, is such a beautiful thing, just like the reality of the baby Jesus beginning His human life to make us free and to be one with God, and the cost that it involved. It’s really amazing that in this time of being busy, in preparation of, the reality of what this season represents strikes through to our hearts and we kneel at the wonder of our Heavenly Father’s love and the obedience and love within Jesus. In spite of all the injustice, in spite of all the pains and disappointments we experience, the greatest truth God gives us is His love and the love we have for Him and others that we we can’t ignore and it overwhelms us. I can’t help but think that this is the way it is supposed to be. You are a dear sister in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce, I believe that you are receptive because you, too, have truly walked through difficult days and found the Lord to be your strength. I so appreciate the depth and wisdom that you have and you encourage me in my faith continually! Your words here are no exception. I especially love what you have to say about “the greatest truth God gives us is His love and the love we have for Him and others that we we can’t ignore and it overwhelms us. I can’t help but think that this is the way it is supposed to be.” Amen and amen! As I read your kind and thoughtful comment, I couldn’t help but think of Matthew West’s song “Christmas Makes Me Cry.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvWTJ44Am4g Tears of sorrow, tears of joy… all wrapped up together in the overwhelming miracle of Christ’s incarnation and sacrifice for us. I’m thankful for His grace and all the blessing that it brings… including the spiritual family He gives us. You are one of those special brothers in the Lord that I thank God for especially! God bless you and your beautiful bride this Christmas and in 2018!!

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  3. Your painting reminds me of the Aussie bush! That comment about grief is so true sneaking up, I remember a while after my past away I was watching tv and some silly commercial came on and I found myself chocking with tears. Strange.

    “Darkness shrouds all else. But Christ, the living Word of God, overcomes the darkness, and, in fact, scatters life’s shadows” I love this Lynn. Thank you for posting,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah… I can imagine that since the trees look similar to Eucalyptus trees… 🙂 I’m so sorry that you, too, have been touched by grief! But I’m grateful to know you and Brandie and to know that God comforts you both no matter what you face in this world. You are a true friend and wonderful brother in the Lord! Merry Christmas, Dave!

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  4. Lord knows how many time I’ve walked through the grocery store or Home Depot and some song was playing on their intercom throughout the store and I was immediately sent into a melancholy funk if not full blown tears.
    Especially if I was on a aisle where I would have plucked something off the shelf for Dad—now as I approach the time my aunt always came up, that being the day after Christmas, to spent a couple of weeks—as she always helped me put away Christmas and we’d head out shopping—doing that after Christmas gathering of the things we really wanted 😉 it won’t be happening this year….everything and I mean everything will be and is already—different.

    And I mustn’t sit here and dwell…as it is early in the day and I need to be perky lurkey…as I use to always tell me students—be perky lurkey like a turkey 🙂

    Got to go, lest I start crying…..
    but do know—a very needed and necessary reminder and post—
    hugs from Georgia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Julie… I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to touch a tender spot… but I so get it. It is extremely difficult and even now, I find myself getting melancholy or cranky for “inexplicable” reasons during the holiday season… until I remember, “It’s not about the stupid oranges.” Most of my beloved family have died during the Christmas/winter months… or there is some sad memory associated with their deaths over Christmas. I do so wish I lived closer or that I didn’t have an art workshop just after Christmas. If either of those were not the case, I’d find a way to pop down to Georgia and distract you on the day after Christmas. I know nothing can replace your dad or your aunt… but if I could, I would be there just to walk through the grief with you! Praying for you especially today! Love you much, my wonderful friend! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Lynn—that means so much—but for now brenton, Abby and grand dog Alice are here — as I referee our two cats and Alice— the distraction is beneficially exhausting 🙃😘— so next week when all are gone and it is quiet again— hopefully I can go about my quiet routine of up and onward!!!

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  5. This is beautiful Lynn! If it is OK with you, I’d like to read it to my women’s Bible Study class tomorrow… Several have had loss in their lives too. I lost my Dad, my real-life hero, in 2008 and my mom, my teacher and supporter through everything, in 2010. Though I grieved their loss more heavily the first couple of years, I found myself in tears again the other day. Grief certainly does sneak up on us! But I am so thankful for the Gospel message…as you shared so beautifully…if it were not for the Light of Jesus and the hope of heaven, grief would be more bitter indeed. But we don’t grieve as those who have no hope, only because of Jesus, our Living Hope! How blessed we are! I hope you and yours have a Very Merry Christmas as we CELEBRATE this AMAZING GIFT!!! God bless you, dear sister! 💖🎄❣️😘💕✝️💖

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    1. I would be truly honored, Dori! And yes, I totally get what you have shared here. I’m so sorry about your losing your mom and dad so close together. I had about 14 years to recover between my dad’s and my mom’s deaths. I can’t even imagine how difficult losing them both in a matter of a few years must have been for you. My heart breaks for you. And yes, I don’t think we ever stop missing our parents…no matter how long it has been since they have graduated to heaven. Like you, I am truly grateful for the grace of God given to us through Christ! It certainly makes all the grief and heartache of this world easier to bear know what hope we have. And what extraordinary hope it is that we are able to celebrate even through our temporary tears! I truly feel you are a kindred spirit, Dori! Thank you with all my heart for sharing your story with me. It means the world to know that you, too, have made a similar journey! God bless you, my wonderful sister! Love, huge hugs and prayers this Christmas for you! ❤ ❤

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      1. Oh Lynn, I have felt that from the start with you as well… kindred spirits we are! I find blogging difficult because I’ve met a couple of people like you who I would just love to meet for coffee, but I know we are all spread out all over the country, even the world! LOL But I guess we can have coffee (or tea) and blog! Thank you for you kindness, understanding and prayers. Love, prayers and HUGE hugs to you too this Christmas! 💖🙏🏻💕🤗💖🎄💕

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      2. Yes… sigh… wish we weren’t spread out, but I am truly thankful that at least we have the miracle of the internet… and perhaps, one day, we will have the opportunity to meet for coffee in person. That would mean so much to me! And love, prayers and HUGE hugs right back to you!! You are super special. Love you! Merry Christmas!! ❤ ❤

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    1. Thank you with all my heart, Denise! You are truly a thoughtful and caring friend! I’m so glad we met here in the blogosphere! I think we have a mutual admiration society going. 😉 I love French Country design and you are the master of it! Thank you so much for your encouragement! And Merry Christmas to you and yours! ❤

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  6. How beautiful that God provided you with someone who understood your loss, Lynn. Yes, grief can sneak up on us. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. My mom passed in 2006, and I still miss her. You wrote –
    “In other words, when our days are darkest, we most clearly see the Light of the World.” I am finding that to be so true in my life. Your painting is beautiful, too! Yes, the shadow proves the sunshine. 🙂 Have a Hope-filled Christmas! Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you for your kindness and compassion, dear Trudy. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss as well. It is truly difficult to lose those we love so much! I don’t think it matters how long it has been; we go on missing those we love, and probably will until we are reunited in eternity. Thank you for your lovely words about my painting, too! I’m so blessed to have met you here online. God bless you greatly this Christmas! Love and hugs back! ❤

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    1. Thank you with all my heart for your kind encouragement, Dorissa! I know you understand grief well, and knowing this, your words of encouragement mean that much more. God bless you greatly this Christmas and in 2018! You are truly an incredible blessing to me and so many others. Merry Christmas!

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    1. And to you and Donna as well, Jim!! I’m afraid I’m a bit tardy with my Christmas cards this year, but you should receive one from me in the coming week! Thank you for being such a wonderful friend and brother to me!

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  7. “I don’t know quite why, but it seems to me that during a season filled with all things that glitter, sparkle and shine, human hearts become more fragile.”
    It’s true. And we do see His light more clearly when we experience the darkness of hardship and grief. You have a gift for painting truth in beautiful words.
    Merry Christmas, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you, Linda, for your always thoughtful encouragement! You can’t even begin to imagine how much your words buoy my soul. You are a wonderful encourager, and you and your blog are truly a blessing in my life! God bless you big time! Merry Christmas! ❤

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  8. Yes Lynn, I agree Christmas can bring sadness, my half Sister Anne died just before Christmas in 2011 not long after I started Blogging. We were both called Anne after our Auntie Anne but we didn’t meet until many years later, we had the same Father but different Mothers.

    Anne at the time she died lived in New Zealand and there had been a mix up and no one told me that she had been in a Coma for 3 months and since I had received a letter from her only two weeks before she died I had no idea she was so ill.

    What happened was Anne had written the letter the Christmas before she died and it had got lost in the Mail and amazingly was delivered to me just before Christmas a year later. As usual there was much Love in Anne’s letter and although I was in grief it comforted me greatly every time I read it. A few days ago I found another letter from Anne when I was unpacking Boxes and once again this one was written at Christmas too even though I saved all her Letters, sometimes realty can be stranger than fiction but yes God was intervening for both of us.

    My wishes for you Lynn and for your Loved ones this Christmas, are for Treasures great and small and as we remember Jesus our Special Gift to Cherish above all others, His Love, Joy and Peace are His Gifts for us that never depart when kept in our Heart.

    “Christ”mas and New Year Blessings,
    Anne ( Grannie Annie )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne, I’m so sorry to hear of the circumstances surrounding your half sister’s death! I’m sure you miss her a great deal! I pray God surrounds you especially with His comfort and peace this Christmas! Thank you for your friendship! You are a Christmas blessing! May God especially bless you this Christmas and in 2018!

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