On Tuesdays Em, Jake, and Maddie have soccer practice, and I walk a circuit between the playground where Patrick plays with some of my other carpool kids and the fields where the older three
practice. Last week the sun was intense and no clouds covered the sky. As I walked in the shadows under the trees, stray beams of sunlight made me blink, and when I emerged into the open field, the setting rays made me reach for my sunglasses. “Ah, that’s annoying,” I thought, until the Holy Spirit elbowed me and I realized the petty selfishness of my attitude.
Sometime later in the day the Holy Spirit nudged again, and I began to see a familiar passage of Scripture in a whole new light (pun intended!). In John 3:20 Jesus says, “… the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
I think I’ve always felt a bit smug when I’ve read those verses. “Yes, ‘those’ people have to hide in the dark, but me, well, I’m doing pretty good things. I’ll let anybody try to find dirt on me. I’m an open book.” In fact, I can remember the unwelcome shock it was when one of my former-students-become-disipleship-partner told me in her blessedly blunt way, “Well, I know you’re not perfect. By now I certainly know your faults.”
What faults is she talking about? I remember thinking that. I mean, I know I have faults, but none that she should be noticing. They’re small, right, and very inconsequential, particularly compared with other people’s.
I might be exaggerating my egotism, but only a little. My heart is pretty devious, and I will accept things it says in the privacy of my own soul that I would recognize as blatant lies if I heard them out loud.
But last Tuesday, when I shut my eyes against the dappled light of the sun, preferring the shadows, I realized that the “works” of my heart require shadow to be seen as good. When the pure light of God’s goodness invades, MY good deeds are exposed and my “kind” thoughts are revealed—and they are all self-centered. I prefer the shadows. I, too, LOVE the dark because it hides my evil intentions.
But God is placing a different desire in my heart. I find that I want my selfishness to be revealed—in the same way I WANT any cavities in my teeth to be found. Though the light of God’s goodness will show that even my whitest whites are stained completely, His light also transforms. Revealing and transforming; revealing and transforming—on and on I become, bit by bit, more like HIM.
So Father, even though I wince at Your convicting presence like I squint at sudden sunlight, keep breaking through my shadows. Don’t let me stay in half-light, pretending that my “goodness” is far better than others’. Don’t let me become a super-spiritual snob. Show me that I love the dark because it hides my selfish “good” deeds. Carry out TRUE good work in me, full of light.
Please, Lord, shine on.