“Get out of the way!” My daughter in the back seat was yelling at the cars in front of us as we were on our way to her dance class. She was frustrated at the amount of traffic in front of us and reacted like she had seen “someone” else react in the same situation. And, no, I’m not going to say who that “someone” was because I have a right not to incriminate myself!
But that frustration is so familiar to all of us. Unfortunately it flows from the all too common misconception that what “I’m” doing right now is more important than anything anyone else is doing so they should just get out of my way! Our pride and ego really does see the world as “me” centered and this is the cause of most of my own mistakes, sins, and bad choices.
However, there is a situation in my life that I don’t have nearly the amount of frustration I SHOULD have: What about the times I am in MY OWN way? Why aren’t I just as frustrated with those times when I am my own worst enemy; when my choices, my attitudes, my actions, are actually preventing me from moving forward in my own life? Truth be told, this reality is far more common in my everyday life than the frustrations of others “getting in my way.” So, how do I learn how to step aside out of my own way so that my life can become what it was meant to become.
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Matthew 5:14-19. The Lord said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Notice Jesus doesn’t say “MAKE” your light shine. He commands us to “LET” our light shine. Perhaps this appears as a minor difference but in actuality it’s a big deal! “Letting” my light shine sounds like the Light is already burning; the Light is already present, and all I have to do is get out of it’s way so that it can be seen. Just put the Light where it belongs; on a lampstand, so that the Light can do what it was made to do. The Light was meant to not only show me how to walk, but shine so brightly that those around me can see how they should walk as well. So, how do I “let” my light shine? It’s instructive that the Lord follows His command to “let” our light shine with comments about the commandments.
The path to “letting” my light shine lies in consistent wakefulness to “good works” motivated by the wisdom of the Lord’s kind giving of His Law to His world. I must first show myself a purposeful student of the wisdom preserved in the scriptures, the prayers of the Faith, the lives of the saints, and the “Way” of the faith if I am ever going to be wise enough and consistent enough in my living to “let” my light shine. This “letting” my light shine is a revelation of my own devotion, my own obedience, my own depth of love, for God and His wisdom. And this can only happen if I humbly embrace the truth that God knows more about living well than I do. Once I embrace this truth, I now can follow this “way” of life and the Light will automatically shine from my life. I will then be “letting” my light shine instead of impeding the light from shining by closing the curtains of my real self through selfish choices and behaviors. No wonder the Church has me read this passage on this day, the day when we remember the Three Holy Hierarchs of the Church; St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, and St. Gregory the Theologian. Each of these holy heroes let their light shine so brightly that we remember them all today!
Today, are you in your own way? Is your life darkening your path and the paths of those around you because you are hiding your “light?” Perhaps it’s time to get out of your own way by humbly embracing the truth that God knows how to live well better than you do. By embracing this wisdom you can finally and consistently “let” the light already burning in your heart because you were created in God’s image shine on your life and on the lives of those around you. By embarking on the wise rhythm of the life of faith preserved in the Orthodox Church, your living can be so polished that it shines light on the lives of all around you. Isn’t it time to “let” your light shine? Isn’t it time to be Orthodox on Purpose?
P.S. Have you shared these devotionals with someone else? Please do and don’t forget to regularly visit faithencouraged.org to keep up with all the teaching resources there to help you be Orthodox on Purpose.