When each of my children was around 5 years old, we did a “Names of Jesus” unit together during our Advent homeschool time. Each day we would focus on a different name that Jesus is called in the Bible, such as shepherd, king, Alpha and Omega, or light of the world. Each lesson had an activity, craft, or lesson associated with it, most of which I’ve forgotten now … except for the object lesson I used for “Light of the World.”
To begin this lesson, we would look at Bible verses together such as John 9:5, where Jesus says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” It was very clear to even a young child that Jesus understood his role in the world as a light to shine in the darkness. I then proposed that we go into the darkest room in the house, a small bathroom with no windows. Always eager to get up and move, and intrigued by continuing the lesson in the bathroom (of all places!), each child would eagerly comply.
A lesson to remember
Once in the bathroom, I would flip on the light, close the door, and we’d notice together the 120 watts of brightness—brightness that lit up every nook and cranny of the small space. We noticed how the bright light illuminated everything, including the shiny faucets, the pretty shower curtain, the dust on the shelves, and the dark corners of the cabinet. We talked about how Jesus’ light brightens our lives and helps us see, but also exposes things we might rather not see. We expressed our gratitude that we had such a bright light to make this room cozy, familiar, and easy to use any time of day or night. And then, I gave them the news that I was going to turn out the light.
Each child, without exception, looked at me with a bit of fear and asked, “Turn out the light? And leave the door closed?”
“Yes, that’s what I mean,” I responded. “It’s going to get very dark in here. But I won’t leave, and I promise I’ll keep talking to you. Are you ready?”
Now, every child is different, but even my bravest offspring were a little hesitant to be in the pitch-black darkness even though they knew I was with them. Then I flipped the switch, and we were in the dark.
After a few seconds I heard: “Mommy? How long will we be in the dark? Can we turn on the light soon?” It was then that I told them I had brought a little match with me. It was nothing like the bright light bulbs we were used to, but still … maybe it would make a small difference?
“Yes, yes, light the match, light it!”
Even though it was small, and they were a little skeptical, anything was better than the pitch dark. I lit the tiny, insignificant match and wonder of wonders, the entire room was illuminated! We were so surprised! Granted, it was nothing like 120 watts of light—but it was absolutely amazing just how little light it took to bring the room back to life. It wasn’t quite enough to see the shine of metal or into the dark corners, but it was certainly enough for comfort, warmth, and security, all of which were sadly lacking in the dark. What a welcome relief! I often heard at this point in the lesson, “I can’t believe it’s so bright! That match is so tiny!”
And so the 5-year-olds learned a lesson that day about 120 watts of Jesus and a tiny little match.
That match is you and me
During Advent, we are “waiting for the light,” focusing on Christ, and that is entirely appropriate. But as we wait for the light, we sometimes forget that we are also called to be the light. Jesus reminds his disciples, “You are the light of the world…. let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14a, 16). Years later, Paul speaks to the Philippians of how they are called to shine in the midst of a twisted and crooked generation, something that surely resonates with us today (Philippians 2:14, 15).
Where can you be a light today? In your own home or at church? At work, at school, or in your neighborhood? At the grocery store or on the highway during rush hour? On the phone with a stranger, on social media, or talking with your different-from-you relatives over the holidays?
It’s true that we are not 120 watts of Jesus. We’re merely a tiny match lit against a formidable darkness, yet others are greatly blessed by our feeble light. And although it seems small, the light that we have in Christ is, in fact, not feeble at all—Jesus magnifies our light so that we can use it in his service. Our potential is tremendous when we remember that we are not only called to wait for the light, but to be the light, as well.
(This post originally appeared on enCourage.)