"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 NAS95)
Jesus not only shows us the exact likeness of God, but the precise essence of humanness. Jesus knew this and called us to follow. As God has placed this verse before me over the past number of years, I’ve wondered what it means to follow Jesus as the Light. I’ve learned that Jesus reveals the true character of God, and thus illumines my misunderstanding of God so that I can see Him as He really exists. Over time, I have also come to apply it more as it speaks to my relating to God. For sure, both ideas go hand-in-hand with each other. I would not relate well to God if I remained frozen in my understanding of Him apart from Jesus’ example. Yet, because of Jesus’ example of relating to God 24/7, I see the light more clearly.
The essence of humanness concerns living from the resources of God’s presence and love. For me that means trusting Him and His availability to me in every circumstance of life, even those places with which I think He’d disagree, and where I’d prefer hiding. Even there He desires my attention, which means light invades the darkness, and His love can draw me out of the mess. Jesus, even in the context of this verse, reflected the reality of His Father present with Him, testifying and speaking through Jesus as well as to those around Him. Through Jesus, I’ve learned that my humanness fulfills its purpose when I am filled with and surrendered to His presence. This light illumines life: the presence of the personal, interacting, and relational God with me now–wherever that is. Jesus realized and reflected this in His life. He lived His perfect understanding of the joyful, loving interactive presence of God with Him and He encourages me to do the same.
What's happened as a result? I’ve learned to listen and attend to God’s presence with me. I continue to grow in this, but it has yielded fruit in many parts of life. By turning my attention to Him, I have had a deft word in evangelism, been granted insight when I teach, held my tongue when I have needed to listen, received insight for issues when I have struggled, heard instruction in the midst of raising children, and learned to wait (at least in some instances) when the time was not ripe. By these experiences I know God journeys with me in a very intimate and personal way because of what I receive when I turn my attention to Him: light that illumines life to flourish in His ways, allowing me to more closely fulfill what it means to be human.
Warmly in Christ, Doug Mitts
For Reflection: “How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance.” (Psalm 89:15 NAS95)
What have you noticed occur when you have turned to God in prayerful awareness in the various circumstances of life?
What spiritual practices would help you cultivate a greater attentiveness to God in all the complexities of life?