The Perfect Gift of Light

During a family trip over twenty years ago, we experienced first hand just how dark darkness could get-but my husband in particular experienced it. While traveling through Pennsylvania along the turnpike with our two boys, we approached a tunnel going through the mountains. There was quite a bit of traffic and multiple signs to be aware of, so my husband missed the sign close to the entrance which said “Remove sunglasses.” The tunnel seemed many miles long, and during it the boys and I chattered but my husband was mysteriously quiet. Once we were out of the unnerving passage, my husband said, “Thank God, I was freaking out in there. I couldn’t see a thing!”

I came across a biblical application to the concept of light vs. darkness, and good things, while reading the first chapter of James. It speaks of the Father of lights who brings good gifts. I am immensely thankful for the gift of light in my spiritual life, so I can see clearly right and wrong, light and darkness. So that I can see where the Lord wants to transform my thinking, my actions, and my speech.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 (ESV)

The beginning of the verse seems to state the obvious-that God gives good and perfect gifts. But do we really understand, or more importantly, embrace what this promise gives us? It offers complete rest if we will take it, a respite from dark doubts that like to swirl around inside our brains, and from striving to get ourselves things. God can only give good and perfect things to us. And His gifts are perfect, because they work to perfect us where we are. We just don’t always recognize them as gifts.

The second part of the verse says, “…coming down from the Father of lights..” I don’t think it is insignificant that the first thing God created was light. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:3-4 (ESV)

Light is imperative to our existence today. We have electrical light in our homes and buildings, headlights on our cars, street lights on tall poles that illuminate roads so we can navigate safely. These lights are, however, imperfect. Even if we have every light on in our homes there are shadows- behind a desk, under a bookshelf, or in a lonely corner. Headlights and street lights only show us so much, but God’s light cuts through everything.

The last part of James 1:17 describes that in God, “…there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (ESV) I do find the AMPC translation interesting here. It says, “…in Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].” What a great example of the difference between our light here and God’s light. It reminds us that the rising and setting of the sun affects our vision, just as an eclipse will affect it.

Nothing can hinder God’s light. John 1:5 states, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” The verse doesn’t use the word “but” as a connecting word, it uses “and”. It isn’t negating that there is darkness, only that perfect light dissolves it. As society seems to get more convoluted and foggy, this is our promise!

Many times over the years my husband and I have laughed about the “tunnel experience” in Pennsylvania. It was a double whammy-a dark passage and sunglasses. They do not go together, we have learned. But Who was waiting at the end of that tunnel? God—with His gift of light! One of His best gifts I think.

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