Longing for the Divine


Jesus told His followers, “let your light shine” (Matthew 5:6). I read a beautiful sentiment in E.G. White’s book Christ’s Object Lessons, which is a commentary on the wise virgins who trimmed their lamps:

Christ does not bid His followers strive to shine. He says, Let your light shine. If you have received the grace of God, the light is in you. Remove the obstructions, and the Lord’s glory will be revealed. The light will shine forth to penetrate and dispel the darkness. You cannot help shining within the range of your influence.

p. 420

I find that we often strive to shine. We try so hard to be important. We try to be better than we are. We feel that we must do something or be someone. Instead of just letting our light shine, we strive. Letting our light shine seems simple, but I think it is difficult because we often become entangled with fears, insecurities, and adversities that block our light. If we remove these obstructions, however, our light will shine clearly and brightly.

There’s a difference between letting light shine and striving to shine. Sometimes, we become so worried about shining that we fail to realize we first need a source of light shining in. We don’t create the light; we are not the source of illumination. Like the sun, divine illumination is already shining. As John said, “God is light” (1 John 1:5). Divine illumination shines on the soul. It’s the true light that shines on everyone who comes into the world (John 1:9). God constantly bathes us in His radiance. We do not live under a dark rain cloud. The rays of God’s peace and love shine through the windows of our inner souls, allowing us to receive that light. God shines on us so that we too can shine.

A shining life assumes an intimate relationship with God, which makes a life so pure that its good deeds manifest the brilliance of His love. We may find it difficult to shine brightly because influences and obstacles block the way and must be removed. These obstacles sometimes prevent us from seeing the light. As Abraham Joshua Heschel states, “It is not given to all men to identify the divine. His light may shine on us, and we may fail to sense it. Devoid of wonder, we remain deaf to the sublime. We cannot sense his presence … except by being responsive to it” (God in Search of Man,1976, p. 252).

What attracts us to the divine presence of light in our lives? It is our sense of God’s beauty and mystery. It is our wonder about who God is. The problem is that our thinking about God has been hijacked by Satan. Open and intimate communion with God’s presence has given way to fear, which drives us to hide behind the leaves and branches of the garden. The obstacles are Satan’s lies (Genesis 3:1–10). What if we stopped striving to shine and instead removed these obstacles—our misunderstanding of God and the other things that block God’s love from shining? What if our hearts were emptied of self, anxiety, fear, and shame so that we could receive the light?

Jesus declared Himself to be the light of the world (John 8:12). We see God’s vivid light in and through the person of Jesus. God disclosed His character through the faithfulness of Jesus to motivate and empower us. If we open ourselves to the continual reception of God’s love and grace, we will begin to live in the light of His unconditional care and acceptance. We will shine because He is the light of the world. We will love because He first loved us. His light, His face, and His character shine on us (Numbers 6:25). We can then feel God’s warmth and be secure in the daylight of His love. His light will bring comfort, healing, and order to our lives. We will shine by Jesus’ faithfulness, not our own. It is unfortunate that Jesus’ faithfulness is often used to persuade us to strive for a faith that will save us.

Jesus has shown us why we can trust God to save us. Soak up the bright beams of His love. “Arise, shine, for your light has come” (Isaiah 60:1). We are to shine the light of His love though the darkness to attract people to God. The splendor of God’s love clears the way, removing every hindrance so we can sense His wondrous light shining to dispel the darkness. We are to mediate this glory and splendor. Your light has come. You don’t need to struggle or strive to shine. Let your light shine. Remove the obstacles, and you can’t help but shine.

Craig Ashton Jr.

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