May 2, 2012

The Amazing Power of Light

Scientists say that a person needs to double the light in their workspace every ten years after the age of fifty. Sometimes restaurants are so dark that my husband has asked waiters for a flashlight. I am also noticing that threading a needle has become more difficult, not that it is blurry, but that I need more light.

Light is necessary. Sunlight is vital. Plants obviously need light to manufacture their food. This energy is passed on to animals that consume them. Animals such as cave dwellers or deep-sea life seem to require no light, but even nocturnal animals require low-level light. Those active during the day need light for vision. For many species, full-spectrum light is needed to convert cholesterol to vitamin D. Animals synchronize their biological clocks by light and its changing cycles. Humans who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) illustrate the importance of light for psychological well-being. 

Dr. John Ott studied the effects of light on plants and animals using time-lapse photography and limiting the spectrum. He found that fluorescent lights, such as cool white, daylight white and warm white bulbs did not allow some plants to flower properly. Limiting the light spectrum with filters produced signs of viral disease in plants. He did the same studies with mice. Limited light produced loss of fur, skin disease, curling and loss of their tails, and inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). Less than full lighting made some mice aggressive and agitated. 

Further, studies of children in school showed that closed curtains and limited spectrum fluorescent lights made the children hyperactive and inattentive. Their behavior changed when the lights were changed and the curtains were opened. Ott also equated poor lighting with malnutrition.

In the spiritual realm, light is also vital for life. The Bible says God is light and that sinful humanity walks in darkness. This means that we do not know or understand the things of God without light from God. Yet God sent light in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible says of Him…
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)
Jesus, because He is the exact representation of God, shows humanity the reality and nature of our Creator. In Him, there is no darkness, no sin, thus He reveals a righteousness that we cannot otherwise see, never mind attain. He is our flashlight in a world where darkness prevails. I’m thinking that perhaps our need for spiritual light is the foundational reality, with physical light merely an illustration. 

As amazing as it is that God would send light into the world by entering it as a man, that same light is offered to us so that we also might be lights in a dark place. Jesus extends this invitation:
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Following Jesus means getting out of the darkness of sin and being able to see God, see my sin and the things that cause me to stumble and fall. It means having a look at life that I could not see before, even a glimpse of eternity that is yet to come. 

However, along with this light comes a great challenge. I am to guard my new walk in the light by staying away from the things of darkness, the sinful deeds done in darkness and the lifestyle of that old state where I was ignorant of light, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

This is sounds poetic but is completely practical. The Word of God shows me what walking in the light means. When life gets fuzzy or difficult to understand, God gives His take on it, light to see my way through that confusion. His light includes instruction for all challenges. 

Besides that, and even more amazing, is that my life can be light for others.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, 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 5:14–16)
For a long time, I thought that this meant being a super saint, someone so holy and pure that I almost glowed with righteousness. Being that kind of light left me discouraged. Who can be that kind of light? Yet God understands my need for a down-to-earth explanation of what it means to shine for Him.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14–15.

God, You amaze me with Your light. You also amaze me that something as simple as contentment and getting along with others can shine Your light on a needy and dark world. Complaining and arguing is easy; everyone does it. Instead of being like everyone, You challenge me to be a light in my home and to those around me. I am not a superstar, yet Jesus shines His light on me. With that comes the privilege of reflecting His light into the dark corners where He sends me and goes with me.

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