Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Prayer

Help me be a better man in YOUR eyes today than I was yesterday, and a better man tomorrow than I was today.

In the name of the Christ, Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Lights

I love Christmas lights. I really, really do.

I don't love "holiday" things that, in my opinion, have nothing to do with what Christmas is about. Certain Christmas songs, certain types of decorations, really get on my nerves -- probably far too easily! -- if they're not "really" about Christmas. About God. About the birth of Christ into this world. (That, or the songs are just old and I get tired of listening to them!)

But I LOVE Christmas lights! And here's why...

Christmas lights remind me of hope. They bring me comfort, and help me find peace.

My freshman year of college was, in many respects, a very difficult time in my life. (And, by extension, a difficult time in my parents' lives... sorry Mom and Dad!) Without going into too much detail, I really struggled with what it meant to follow God, where I was meant to be in the world, and by some stupid choices I made, my own health. But I remember, near the Christmas break, they set up a "holiday" tree in the student center. It was in a large alcove, surrounded by chairs where students could sit, and I remember one quiet night going down to that room. I was the only one there and, in the midst of my troubles, I remember just looking at that tree. Looking at the small lights. And somehow, someway, feeling better. Those lights brought me more than a measure of peace. I guess, more than that, God used those lights to bring me that peace.

Even earlier than that, I remember being really young and spending time in my living room. We set up a tree every year, and my dad strung it with lights that sometimes blinked in patterns, quickly or slowly, or simply stayed lit. I remember laying on my back with my brothers in the darkened room, watching the light from those blinking bulbs dance around the ceiling, casting shadows of branches in reds and blues, and loving every moment. Everyone came to my parents' house this year and did kinda the same. The lights didn't blink, but looking at the bulbs is still a wonderful experience. And so Christmas lights remind me of family, too.

Even driving from place to place, when it's cold and dark seeing hundreds of tiny lights, white or colored, covering houses and trees or simply draped over a bush or two, makes me happy in otherwise cheerless winter nights.

In John 8:12, Jesus says, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life." When I think of this verse, I think of all that light does. We see where we are going by it. We are warmed by it. Without light, life as we know it could not exist on this planet. Just as light guides, and warms, and gives life, so does Jesus. And when I see lights at Christmas time, in my best moments I'm reminded of this guidance, this warmth, this life that Jesus gives, and I'm comforted, given peace, and sometimes even happiness by all these tiny lights shining in the night.

It reminds me right now of friends, like lights shining in my life. Of God, the ultimate light.

Yeah... I LOVE Christmas lights!

What gives you peace or hope or comfort around the holidays? Or anytime?