The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it. ~John 1:5 NLT
Three angels perched on our lawn. They were all a little forward leaning, tethered by rope and peg against the grade of the hillside which tugged them and threatened to topple them. But they stood sturdy and stalwart, against rain, snow, sleet and high wind. As the world waited for the Christ child, they stood their ground. Halo’s aloft, they each held fast to an item and presented it before them. Two of them held books — hymnals or Bibles, we could never be sure — while the middle one held the light, a special candle with a flickering bulb.
Each angel we inscribed with a name, specifically, one of the names of our three daughters. Not to proclaim that they were angels, but rather to designate which wings went with which body when we pieced them together each year and made ready to place them on the lawn. Our two oldest daughters held the books while our youngest was singled out to hold the light. This responsibility she took to heart. The light she held shone in the darkness all night until the rays of the morning quenched it.
Until one year, upon returning from the Christmas Eve service, we noticed that the little angel’s light was not lit. On closer examination we discovered that the bulb had not gone out: it was missing. Someone had stolen the angel’s light. Big tears rolled down our little girl’s cheeks. Yes, because an unkindness had been done and a theft had been committed, but most of all because the little angel, her little angel, could not present the light of Christ.
In this tiny, earth-shattering moment our small daughter saw that the forces of darkness in this world are real and they are on a mission to extinguish the light. Her world would never be the same. As I hugged my teary child, searching for words of explanation as comfort, her dad knew just what to do. He raced into the house and emerged a moment later holding a small box with a replacement bulb. We held our breath as he screwed it back into place and the light was restored. Our daughter beamed with joy.
The light shone in the darkness; darkness did not extinguish it.
Ah, the clean slate of a new year. Fresh off the Christmas holiday, we’re feeling good about ourselves. Time to activate on the new year’s resolutions. Weight loss? Exercise? Quitting that bad habit? Nah, let’s not bother with the small stuff. Let’s go big. “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) That ought to take care of it. If want the Kingdom life complete with all the amenities, all I have to do is follow Jesus.
Such a bold resolution, but my track record thus far is not so good. I mean, while I’m busy looking into the distance for what Jesus would do, I’m fumbling the things at hand. I see his patience with children, his compassion for the sick, his attention to those in need, but it’s not even noon and I’ve already raised my voice, shelved my empathy and affixed my headphones so I can tune out all the whining. It looks so easy when Jesus does it, and so messy when I get hold of it.
This Christmas I discovered a wonderful tool that planted an idea and gives me the hope of a strategy. Of course there were angels involved. These angels began in 1997 when my husband Scot, the amateur woodworker, designed some “lawn ornaments” as Christmas decorations. He, not being one to settle for small projects, designed and constructed three 4-foot tall wooden angels. Complete with wings, hymnals and a working electric candle, these white painted cherubs, must be pieced together and staked up each year as they take their place on our little grassy knoll.
This year, I found out their secret. They weren’t drawn free hand as I had imagined but were traced via pantograph from a design ordered from a wood shop catalog. Aha! Using this magical tool, one only need trace over the original design and the device reproduces the image perfectly in a much larger size. You simply focus on what’s at hand and let the pencil re-trace the image, all courtesy of Read the rest of this entry