I had just bought a new flashlight for youth camp. It was one of my first times serving at camp as a newly ordained priest and my cabin was a bit of a hike away from the center of the retreat center. I confess I was a bit nervous and the last thing I needed was to stumble in the dark and be out of commission with a sprained ankle!
On the first night of camp, after participating in orientation, I was walking back to my cabin and turned on the flashlight. WOW! I mean, I knew this was supposed to be a bright light, but, man, this was amazing. I could see all around me! I saw the pothole in the path long before I got to it and navigated myself safely to my cabin. If I’m honest, I’d have to admit I felt quite proud of my purchase!
But, isn’t that what Light is supposed to do, help you avoid stumbling? Isn’t clarity supposed to make your journey more fruitful?
Look at our lesson today in Luke 8:16-21:
The Lord said, “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
Jesus always states the obvious in such a way that it arouses our attention. Of course, no one lights a lamp to hide it! What a ridiculous idea! Exactly!
So, when we allow our Light to be hidden, we need to be confronted with the very ridiculous and actually dangerous choice we’ve made! Hiding light is a surefire way to get lost or stumble or even tumble to our own destruction. It isn’t safe. It isn’t smart.
But notice what the Lord goes on to reveal. Us hiding the Light isn’t going to stop the Light from eventually revealing everything about us. Everything hidden is going to come to Light! All our efforts to hide from ourselves and others are eventually going to fail. So, we might as well have the courage to deal with ourselves now, in the Light! It’s the cover-up that always causes the most trouble. And it usually doesn’t work for long. But that’s a blessing because if we deal with our struggles in the Light of God’s love and grace, we embrace the chance now to be healed by that very light and grace. That’s why confession is such strong medicine for spiritual healing. Bring the brokenness into the Light and watch as that “antiseptic” grace binds up the woundedness of our lives. Besides, better to come clean ourselves than to be forced into the Light later!
Then Jesus gives us the key discipline for doing just that; willingly bringing our brokenness into Light. “Take heed how you hear.” What a surprise! It would seem that Him saying “Pay attention to how you act” would make more sense. But that isn’t our first problem. Our behaviors are symptoms of our challenges; not the sickness itself! My problems start with my not being attentive in LISTENING! And that is always the result of my pride and ego. I foolishly and inattentively believe “I got this” And I don’t “got” this. I need to stay attentive to listen to God.
God speaks to me in many ways. First, He speaks through His holy scriptures. St. John Chrysostom declares that we can’t be good followers of Jesus if we remain ignorant of the holy scriptures. Why do you think the Church enshrines the Public Declaration of the Holy Scriptures in the liturgy? Because knowing the scriptures makes me more able to discern His voice all around me. The Lord also speaks to me from my spiritual father. I can’t tell you the joys of my own life when I’m blessed to be in confession with my spiritual father and he speaks to me about the wisdom of the Faith. I’ve come to cherish his insights that have, more than once, shown me the Light of wisdom for my own choices.
And God does speak to me through the circumstances I am in. Look around you. God is not being silent. He is offering the Light of His wisdom to you today IF you will be humble enough to pay attention!
Today, have you seen the Light? Are you hiding from the Light? Time to abandon the fantasy that you can keep this a secret any longer. Let the Light make you Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, You are the Light of the world. Grant me the humility to stop hiding like Adam and Eve in the Garden. We have become addicted to hiding, Lord. And it never ends well for us. You aren’t seeking to shame or accuse us. Your only desire is our healing and wholeness. Help me to stop hiding from the Light, Lord, and give me the strength to embrace Your Light for my life. Amen