“Mom, why you’s hands blue?” ~Calah
“What happened to your hands? They are blue!” ~Joel
Turning my hands over in hers, over and over and over again… looking quizzically at me. ~Iris
“Um… Mom? You do know your hands are blue, right?” ~Elanor
“I couldn’t help but notice that your hands are blue. What’s up with that?” ~Isaiah
So… this thing happened when I was crafting in kindergarten. I didn’t mean to do it. For a few weeks I’d been working with the kindergarteners, one at a time, on making Easter egg Easter baskets (kind of like these) out of tissue paper. Well, on that fateful Monday four things happened: 1- The bright blue tissue paper wasn’t non-bleeding like the other colors. 2- The tissue paper egg slipped, almost falling off the table, and I instinctively reached out to catch it. 3- My hand was stained blue. 4- I was repeatedly asked why my hand was blue… by all of my children.
I didn’t draw attention to my differently colored hand, just went about my routine tasks. Yet, the noticeable change from my norm drew the attention (and questions) from all the narrawaggles.
“I couldn’t help but notice…”
That unexpected encounter with the balloon left my hand changed. It was only a surface stain, faded away by the next day. The variation from my normal skin tone was unmistakable. I couldn’t hide it (unless I wore gloves) and I didn’t need to draw attention to it… my family “couldn’t help but notice.”
When we encounter Christ we’re changed, much more than at surface level, but from the inside out.
John chapter 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Christ is the light of the world; He is our light. And Jesus calls us to be a light.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Being changed by God will affect things that people can see on the outside. People will notice the things that we say or the things that we don’t say. They’ll be able to observe things that we do or do not choose to do. But deeper still, God changes us on the inside. And that… that is the light that will shine.
If all that following God changes in our lives is what we do, as observed on the exterior well, then our shining is for ourselves, shining our own righteousness. Bu,t when being a follower of God means that we’ve laid down ourselves and given God the place of Lordship in our lives, when we choose, in response to God’s great love for us, to live each day for Him, well… then we shine… not for ourselves but for the glory of God.
When we shine for the glory of God because of the glory of God, that’s something that can’t help but be noticed.
I admit the distinction often eludes me in every day situations: how to shine for the glory of God and not my own recognition. How do I choose to allow the light of Christ within me no longer be hidden without choosing to shine for myself? What does that look like in real, daily living?
God brought back this memory, something I hadn’t thought about for a long time. You’re gonna have to think back to a time before most conversations happened by text, before wireless phones allowed us to talk whenever, wherever… to a time when a family had a phone hung in a communal room… and it had a cord.
I was in middle school, I’d taken to talking to friends on the phone. Even back then I didn’t have short conversations. After a while I’d sit or lay on the floor with my feet on the wall. And we’d talk, and talk, and talk, and talk some more. During one conversation my friend, who was going through some really tough family times, stopped sharing her struggles and then she said, “I want to know why you’re different.”
I don’t think I understood what she meant. I stopped playing with the phone cord and sat right up. “I want to know how you can stay so positive even when things are tough.”
Honestly, I hadn’t realized I’d been positive. I hadn’t realized that I was doing anything different from my friend. But God reached through that moment and spoke to my heart.
That difference, that thing that she couldn’t help but notice? It was Christ. It was the hope of God in my life. Being a Christian didn’t stop bad things from happening but, in a way coming from the inside out, it changed how I responded… I didn’t even know it it was happening! And my friend wanted to know why.
So, I shared the love of God with her.
I’m still blown away by that moment. Astounded how the light of Christ transforms us, shines through us.
I’m challenged by that moment. Provoked by how brave I was and how little I got in the way of Christ when I was young to examine my heart now.
Sometimes I don’t think I shine very bright for God. But did you know this? The human eye can detect the light from one candle from about 1.5 miles away. Crazy, right? Light is powerful, darkness cannot overcome it and our eyes are acutely attuned to seeing it. How much more are our hearts/spirits able to perceive the light of Christ shining?
When someone looks at you and “can’t help but notice” the difference of the light of Christ shining through you, are you prepared to share why? 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
God, fill us with your light. Give us bravery we desperately need to let you shine and not try to hide you in us. Give us strength to fight the temptation to shine for our own recognition. When your light is seen within us, give us the words and understanding, gentleness and respect to share about your great love and the redemptive work of Christ! Amen.