Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "For The Beauty Of The Earth"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 4:6b – Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. (NIV)
Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (NIV 2011)
Three weeks after the devastating tornado ripped through Goderich, Ontario, I took a walk through the damaged area. One particular scene stayed riveted in my mind: the United Church. This once-magnificent historic edifice was now irreparably damaged. Demolition had begun, leaving the inside fully exposed to the elements — and also to outside view. I could see the sunlight shining down on the balcony pews, causing their reddish brown hues to glow against the backdrop of the broken-up walls. We rarely see finished wood radiating with such splendour, because we protect it from the outside elements.
That day as I gazed at the damaged church, another marvel caught my attention: A few stained-glass windows were still intact, and I could see sunlight shining through them. We don't normally see stained-glass windows shining so brightly. Even at night time, the light shining through them is artificial light — never the sun's full splendour. But that day, oh! how brightly they shone! And with such vibrant colours!
While gazing at the broken church that day, a disturbing feeling of exposure arose within me. The pews emanated a sense of utter helplessness and vulnerability — with no means of hiding from the ravages of nature. That reminded me of how we dislike such exposure of ourselves. We resist becoming uncovered and disclosed — vulnerable to elements in life over which we have no power. It is natural for us to construct exterior facades so that no one can see our fallenness. We don't want to be exposed in our flaws, our vulnerability, and our smallness. However, we are merely trying to hide from ourselves and from God, just like Adam and Eve did after they had turned against God. They instinctively grabbed fig leaves while dashing for the bushes.
Oh, how little of the true light of God can shine through us, His people, when we are hidden behind our self-constructed walls. The beauty of Christ's light cannot be reflected through us — unless "the roof blows off" — and that's just the way God works in our lives. It may seem like a tornado has touched down, leaving us feeling frightfully exposed to the elements. Perhaps we experience failure, rejection, or in some way the unmasking of our facades and the painful exposure of our flaws. Yet it is in this exposed and vulnerable condition that we can hear God's invitation and His light can shine on us and through us to others. Christ is God's solution for our brokenness. He is the better cover — a cover that is transparent, truthful, and flexible, and that radiates the Son's light.
Prayer: Lord, in the trials and testings of our lives, may we have the courage to be exposed in truthfulness before You. May we become wholeheartedly receptive to You, so that the light of Your love can radiate in the rubble of our brokenness, just like those pews and windows radiated with the sun's radiance. Amen.