“Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others” (1 John 2:9-10, The Message)
I saw a former member of my church yesterday. It has been about a year since she and her husband moved to another state to pursue their careers, and the church really missed them and their family.
After a bit of small talk, she finally told me, with her hand over her face and her head turned down, she was getting a divorce. Her marriage had lasted about six years.
Once again, Bible College didn’t teach me how to respond to this. I simply looked at her and said, “I’m sorry.” Apparently, it was enough, because she continued to share her heart with me.
Unfortunately, not every reaction she’s received has been so gracious. The youth pastor’s wife at her new church actually got right up in her face and screamed at her. Other Christians have shunned her. How tragic. I’ve spent some time reading the New Testament, and I cannot remember an instance where Jesus screamed in someone’s face or shunned them because they were in a difficult situation. Instead, He always allowed the love and light of God to shine.
Although I was gentle with this soon-to-be divorcee, I’ll admit I haven’t always been so gracious. In my younger years, I would probably have told this young woman that divorce was a sin. I would have demanded her and her husband get some good Christian counseling, seek God, pray together, invite the Holy Spirit to heal their marriage and then allow their story to heal others.
Yeah, it all sounds so “holy,” but that kind of advice may actually block the light of God’s love. Who am I to “demand” anyone do anything?
As I sit here in the safety of my study, I can think back on other times I wasn’t so gracious. What were some of my unloving actions that blocked the light of God’s love?
- Have people stumbled around in the shadow of my sin and pride, only to miss the true light of God’s love because I was too selfish to love as God loves me?
- Have I forced people to look around me to see Jesus standing on the other side?
- Why isn’t Jesus front and center?
I should be in the shadow of God; God should not be in the shadow of Jim. My life should be an avenue of His light, not an obstacle people must go around in order to see God.
There is a character in the Bible named Bezalel who gives me a good picture of how we can live in the shadow of God. God chose Bezalel to construct the delicate and intricate parts of the Tabernacle. The name Bezalel means “in the shadow/protection of God.” God used everything Bezalel manufactured for His own glory in the Tabernacle. As Bezalel worked, I get the picture of the essence of God hanging like a shadow over him, instructing and promoting his every move so the final product of his creativity is a perfect reflection of the will of God. In this manner, the shadow of God becomes the inspiration to promote the glory of God.
“Lord, help me to live in Your shadow. Guide my life so my words and actions promote and inspire Your glory, not my agenda and limited love. I pray no one every has to look around me in order to see You, but will see so much of You in me they might forget my name like we’ve forgotten Bezalel, but will forever remember Your goodness. Amen.”
Previously posted July, 2009
Another beautiful anecdote Jim. Thankyou for the transparency in your writing that draws the reader closer to the heart of God.
Thanks Jim. God bless.