Wonderful Light

“…to declare the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light” ( 1 Peter 2:9)

I spent a good portion of my twenties working in the dark. Singing in nightclubs for a living, I played four sets a night, the first one not even starting until 9 pm. At 2 am when the lights went on, anyone still at the bar was in for a rude awakening. Those cozy booths were actually stained and crusted with a variety of revolting substances. The bottles of Chivas Regal and Jose Cuervo glittering against the illuminated mirror were coated in a layer of grease and dust. The harsh glare revealed that the cocktail glasses, hastily sloshed out in the sink between customers, probably hadn’t ever been washed in hot soapy water.

But it was the people who were typically still there at last call that looked even worse than the shabby, stained carpets. Dim light hides a lot. A lot of ugly. Like the telltale indentation on the third finger, left hand of a ring that had been temporarily removed. Like the bloodshot eyes and shaking hands of the aging drunk. Like the haggard face of the young girl pulling on her sleeves to conceal needle marks and bruises.

When I met Jesus, he literally “called me out of darkness and into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). I left the dinginess and gloom of my old life behind and before long found myself leading God’s people in worship in the bright light of a Sunday morning. Wonderful light indeed.

Light Reveals what the Darkness Conceals

I recently opened my home for an elegant brunch in honor of my daughter-in-law, hosted by her family. They were bringing everything; all I had to do was clean.The night before, I applied myself to the task with vigor and went to bed exhausted after hours of scrubbing and sweeping, content that I was ready for company. But in the morning, as the guests began to stream in, I was mortified as I kept catching spots I’d missed out of the corner of my eye. My gleaming black refrigerator was smeared with spots and fingerprints despite the elbow grease I’d expended. I noticed crumbs in corners. Grease spots on the stove. Cobwebs on the popcorn ceiling. Dust on the fan blades. And on and on.

Granted, not earth-shattering. I’m pretty sure no one else noticed it. Everything was technically clean, it just didn’t resemble a brand-new model home. When I have people over for candlelit dinners, or to sit in front of the fireplace in the evening, my house always looks warm and inviting. But the image of perfection is impossible to maintain in the bright light of day. All my deficiencies as a housekeeper were illuminated.

If we walk in the light, we walk with Jesus, the light of the World. And what is unclean in our hearts and minds and actions will become increasingly visible. God will not be surprised that it is there, although we might be. I didn’t like seeing the crud that remained after I thought I had thoroughly l cleaned, but the light of day revealed what a few 60 watt light bulbs could not. And once I could see there was still something that needed to be swept away, wiped off, or mopped up, I was eager to do it.

“Cleanliness is next to godliness” is a saying that actually is not in the Bible — it was John Wesley who coined it— but there is a certain degree of truth to it. A benefit of walking in the the light is that we get to stay right next to Jesus who, the Bible says, “ is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus tells us that that when we choose to step into the light of his presence, we’ll have his kind and generous help in both spotting our messes and in cleaning them up. Wonderful light indeed.

If you are a believer in Jesus, how has your life changed as a result of the light he sheds in your life? What can you see now that you couldn’t see before?