My friends and I had enjoyed a Saturday afternoon show at the Fox Theater in Atlanta and stopped in Marietta for an early dinner. As the sun was setting over the strip malls and car dealerships of Barrett Parkway, we climbed into my red Prius and headed home to the quiet of the Northwest Georgia mountains.
Always a bit anxious getting into the traffic that rushed by on the interstate, I eased onto I-75 North for our drive home. Before we had gone very far, my friend noticed a big red truck next to us on the right. The driver was frantically pointing at us and saying something.
“Is it a flat tire?” Tiffany asked.
I looked down at my dash and did not see the little icon that tells me my tire is low. “I don’t think it’s the tires,” I said, alarm gripping me as I tried to figure out the problem.
The man continued to point and holler. I looked down again and instinctively brought my hand to the left turn signal. I flicked a switch and on came the headlights.
I had been hurtling down the highway in the dark with no lights on. The man had been shouting, “Lights!”
My headlights normally come on automatically when I start up the car but I had taken it in for service the day before and they must have gotten turned off in the process. I never thought to check them.
How far would I have gone in the dark without the Good Samaritan who brought it to my attention?
The incident made me think of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
We are the “light of the world” and we are to “let our light shine”. But how often do I think I’m shining when in reality my light is turned off?
Too often my light is dimmed by anger, jealousy or envy. Sometimes I’m just tired or discouraged. I smile and act like I’m the light but it’s fake. I’m just pretending to shine.
Many times, my light has not shown brightly because I let fear crowd it out. My light starts to glow and then I rush in and cover it up because I’m worried about what others will think. After all, who am I to put out all that light? And what if someone sees me messing up and being human —then what will they think of me?
Other times I’ve hidden my light because I’m convinced I won’t get it right. If I assume I’ll fail at whatever God has for me to do, why even try?
What I have to remind myself is that it’s not my light but God’s light that is trying to shine through me. When I’m in tune with the Holy Spirit in me, listening and trusting to Him, then the light comes out. But without that source, it’s going to be like driving down the road with just my parking lights on—it may work for a little while, but eventually the road ahead is going to be too dark!
I am working to claim the person I feel God is pushing me to be, to claim that light as mine. Instead of giving in to the voices of fear that urge me to ‘hide my light under a bushel’, I’m taking a deep breath and putting that light up on that hill like Jesus tells me. The only way I can do that is to keep the lines of communication open between myself and the Holy Spirit. Then my lights come on intuitively and I don’t even have to think about it.