I thought it would be a foregone conclusion that my blog entry would be about me getting my new eyeglasses. I got them on Thursday and they were very disorienting at first, but it’s getting better. I wish I had gotten bifocals like the doctor suggested to me. My glasses are off now as I type this, but if I want to turn away from the computer to speak to anyone, I will want the glasses. Anything 18 inches or closer is out of focus with the glasses and fine without.
I grabbed onto something else to write about though. It’s still along the lines of vision and sight. I was teaching Sunday school as usual. I teach the object lesson where I bring in an everyday object and tell a story about a person from history who models Biblical values. I don’t write the lesson. The curriculum is good, but I have to adjust it for to fit the 4th graders, then the 1st graders, and finally the 2nd and 3rd graders. Sometimes as I teach I see what the kids latch onto and try to impress the point that they get the best. It was just so good this time I wanted to share it.
I brought my flashlight and told the story of Florence Nightingale. “The Lady with the Lamp” was a light to people in darkness. Back when hospitals could make people sicker for being there, patients were comforted and ministered to by her. I asked the kids, “Why would I need to carry a flashlight? What do we need it for?” The kids answered the easy question with easy answers. You need a light to see when it’s dark. I tried to get them to understand that a light is to guide us. I use it so I don’t bump into furniture in a dark room. But it doesn’t just show me the way, it provides security.
I didn’t bother to tell the kids about a time I was lost in some trees at night or a time I was walking through the underground labyrinth beneath Castle Hill in Budapest. Those were two very scary times of my life. Utter darkness is terrifying when I don’t know what’s there. Just like when I got my new eyeglasses, things appeared just a little wrong and for the first day I felt panicky. Darkness is the same. I’m not afraid of the dark, but there is an inescapable uneasiness when there is an unfamiliar darkness.
The kids I was teaching didn’t need to be reminded that the dark can be scary. So they knew how essential a flashlight is. Then I told them the day’s Bible Verse:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 KJV
I was getting it as I was teaching it. I was getting excited. “Do you know what?” I said. “Jesus says that YOU are lights.” The kids reacted in surprise. “That doesn’t mean you light up like my flashlight,” I continued. “You don’t glow in the dark…” a girl interrupted to share how her brother once was covered in glow-in-the-dark paint.
“That’s not what Jesus means when he says that you are a light.” I explained. “Now remember, why do we have lights?” I held my flashlight and the kids chimed about being able to see in the dark.
“So,” I said. “If Jesus says that you are a light, what does that mean? Jesus says you’re a light, what are we supposed to do then?”
Hands twitched but the kids just pondered. Finally one little girl raised her hand. I called on her and she said:
“We are supposed be a light to show people Jesus.”
I had her say it again and the whole class murmured in understanding.
I flopped down in my chair and thanked her. I thanked the whole class actually. I had twelve 2nd and 3rd graders. And at that moment I couldn’t think about anything but how 12 little lights were shining in that room.
Yes, kids are inheriting a violent and unpromising world. Like being lost in the dark without a light, some of us are stumbling in confusion with no direction, just panic. Even those like me who are supposed to have seen the light can be afraid and discouraged. I just had to share this. There is light out there. It’s not at the end of the tunnel. That light is inside us and inside those among us. We are the light of the world and are called on to shine and glorify God. And sometimes when it’s so very dark, a small light will be a beacon of hope.