From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Two, Day Three
According to Jewish tradition, one of the names for the Messiah is "Light." How fitting, then, that Jesus is called the "Light of the world." John's Gospel portrays Jesus as the light that vanquishes the darkness brought on by sin — a darkness that ends in death. Christ has opened the eyes of a sin-darkened world to the truth of the gospel. We who believe in him have moved from darkness to light, from death to life. When we pray to Jesus as the Light of the world, let us remember that we are calling on the One who was so determined to draw us into his light that he spent nine months in the darkness of his mother's womb in order to become one of us. Let us ask Jesus, our Light, to make us shine with his reflected glory.
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12
Praying the Name
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Matthew 17:1 - 2
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5 - 7
Praise God: For there is no darkness in him.
Offer Thanks: For the grace to walk in the light.
Confess: Any tendency to make peace with habitual failings.
Ask God: To draw you more powerfully toward his light.
A few years ago, we hosted a young woman from South Africa who joined our family in late May for a year-long stay. I couldn't help smiling when she remarked how cold it was one warm spring afternoon. Then summer arrived, the temperature heated up, and Sarina began to feel right at home. The only thing that seemed alien to her was how intent everyone was on spending every minute of their free time outdoors — boating, gardening, golfing, biking, beachcombing. She didn't solve the puzzle until she lived through her first Michigan winter. Then she understood just how starved for warmth and light we northerners are by the time spring arrives.
I love all the images in Scripture that associate God with light. That association is strong and consistent, beginning in the first chapter of the Bible. The book of Genesis portrays God creating light when the earth was yet a formless void and "darkness was over the surface of the deep." Throughout Scripture, divine appearances are often marked by light. The psalmist describes a luminous God, wrapped in light as in a garment. Indeed, God is so bright that to look at him, as Moses did, was to have your own face shine with reflected glory. Later, the New Testament describes Jesus' dazzling transfiguration on the mountain top. The scene was so brilliant that the three disciples who were with him were literally awestruck, falling to the ground. Matthew's Gospel says of Jesus, "His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light" (Matthew 17:2).
Whatever darkness still surrounds or resides in us, we need to remember that there is not a shred of darkness in our God. And we are to be pitied if we do not long to spend every day all day basking in his light. But how do we do it? To put it plainly, living in the light requires effort impelled by grace. At a minimum it means following the lighted path of God's commandments. But even more than laws, we are called to follow the world's true light, Jesus Christ, imitating his life as we are able. It's that simple—and that difficult.
Today, thank God for all the ways you have perceived his light at work in your life. Then examine your heart with respect to Exodus 20:1 - 17 and Matthew 22:34 - 40, which record his commandments. Before you go to bed tonight, pray the words of "Lead, Kindly Light," a hymn written by John Henry Newman:
Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home —
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene — one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.
So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
At Sea. June 16, 1833
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.