Over the last couple of weeks I've tried to gradually face some degree of exposure to our local festive events.... sometimes more successfully than others. On one occasion I didn't even get as far as parking the car as my emotions engulfed me at the first sight of the festive stalls and the brass band by the roadside. Determined not to be defeated I did venture out again that evening and went with my Dad to see the Christmas lights being switched on. That was a better experience.
Today I attended the 'Light up a Life' service at our local church, organised by Rowcroft Hospice. It consisted of a few Christmas carols, a time of remembrance and the lighting of candles for our loved ones, and a most inspirational and encouraging message given by the preacher. He focused on the subject of 'Light' and talked about a ship's light that might be seen out at sea on a dark night. Living by the sea, we've seen such lights many times. We were reminded that, although we may only see a tiny light in the distance, that light indicates the presence and reality of a ship and its crew. However small the light may appear to us, the substance of what it represents is real and significant, even though we can't see it. The same is true of our departed loved ones. Our memories may seem like a distant flickering light, but the very essence and truth of the person, and the love we share, is as bright and real as it ever was.
I found great comfort, and even a deep sense of joy, from that message. It brought home to me the assurance that my Suzie is alive and vibrant and happy, and, most of all, free from the constraints and restrictions of this earthly life. Christmas is all about the birth of our Lord Jesus, who came to this earth to shine His light into our darkness and to pay the price for our eternal joy and peace. He is the Light of the world, and I sensed a glimpse of that light this afternoon. It was a significant turning point for me as I continue to prepare myself for the Christmas season. I really believe that I will now be able to face this very difficult time of year with a deep sense of peace.
Tonight, as I looked out of the window before pulling the curtains, I was greeted by an amazingly bright full moon. Its light shined across the sky, dispelling the darkness of the night. It was another beautiful reminder of the light that Jesus shines into our world.
As I settled into bed and reached for my nighttime devotional reading I found these words waiting for me:
"You are being led forth. Your wilderness wanderings are nearly over. Behold I make all things new. A new birth, a new heart, a new life, a new song. Let this time be to you a time of renewal."
I trust God for that 'new song' as He continues to shine His light into my darkness.