Out of Hiding Into Light

by Christine Sine

Light on broken glass - Christine Sine

by Beth Stedman

How do we lean into the Light of Christ?

 When I first saw this question in an email from Christine I honestly dismissed it a little. It felt like a good question and theme to sit with for Advent, but it didn’t resonate with me very much. And then…well, then God started calling me into some really deep soul work. Suddenly this question took on a life of it’s own.

I feel like God’s been going into rooms of my heart, sometimes rooms I didn’t even know where there, hidden away in the dark, and turning on the lights.

“You need to look at this. You need to pay attention to this.” He says, as he points to the clutter, the dirt, the broken windows, and cracked foundations. “It’s time to turn the light on, it’s time to see things for what they are, time to see yourself in truth.”

This has not been easy work. It’s been hard, painful, tear-filled work. It’s been the work of confession.

And I think it has been the work of preparation that I need, the work of preparing for Christmas, the work of Advent.

It is easy for me to forget that Advent was originally (and still is) a fasting season. Advent is to Christmas as Lent is to Easter. Yet that isn’t how I think of Advent, or how I practice Advent typically. Perhaps I’ve been missing something.

When John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, he didn’t do it with lovely decorations and a calendar full of parties and social engagements. He went out into the wilderness and called out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Repent.

I’ve often heard repentance described as turning and going the opposite direction, perhaps we could also describe repentance as turning on the lights. What I’m realizing is that when I bring my darkness, my brokenness, my sin out into the light, when I confess it and speak it aloud to others, it looses just a little of it’s power and it becomes easier for God to step in and lead me in a new direction.

I have heard people say before “we can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge” and I’m beginning to the think that there is more truth to this than I had ever realized before. What I continue to do is pretend I am alright. Pretend I don’t need a savior, or don’t continually need a savior. I make the cross of Christ’s grace cheap, claiming to walk in his mercy, but continuing on in my sin. My sin exposes the places where I don’t really believe the things I say I believe. So, I hid those things away, from myself, from others, and often from God. Although, “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

I’m beginning to think I cannot fully receive mercy and grace for what I do not expose. Perhaps this is exactly the work of sanctification. Exposing, one thing after another, before God, before myself, before others. Perhaps the work of sanctification requires that I see myself exactly as I am, see all of the cracks in my foundations, all of the broken places, the clutter and garbage to which I keep clinging. In seeing these things, in acknowledging, in leaning towards the light and letting it shine in all corners of myself, I am entering into the heart of Advent waiting, which is need.

It is our deep need for a savior, a messiah, that prompts us to call out the holy summons of Advent, “Come. Come, Lord Jesus.” It is our deep need for mercy and grace, for someone to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, that produces in us the holy longing of Advent.

Perhaps Advent is really a season of repentance. And perhaps the first step of repentance is to stop hiding and step into the light. I cannot heal myself, but perhaps God cannot heal me either until I come to him in truth, in confession, seeing my need for what it is.

We often talk about Christ being the light of the world and yet what we forget is that we really like darkness. Darkness allows hiding. Leaning into the light, being people of the light, means coming out of hiding. It means speaking truth even when we want to run in the opposite direction. It means we don’t shove our sin in a dark room and keep it hidden, we bring it out into the light.

I’m not going to say this is easy. It’s not. It is hard to say aloud the deep wounds in my heart, the things I’m embarrassed to admit. It’s hard to face my own sin head on and then speak those things in the presence of someone I care for, who I want to care for me. This is hard work, but it’s holy work, and work that we have largely neglected in the modern church.

We neglect or rush past the fast for the feast, and I think we largely do this because we want to stay hidden. We like the idea of Christ as a light, as long as that light doesn’t shine too brightly in our direction. At least that’s where I think I’ve been, but this season, this Advent, I’m praying a new prayer. I’m asking for light. Not just the light of guidance or the happy feel good of God banishing the darkness around me, but the light that banishes the darkness within me.

Christ as a light, illumine and guide me*
I need you, Lord Jesus.
I need you to come as light.
Come into the darkness,
Come into my darkness.

Christ as a light, illumine and guide me*
You are the light that burns,
and this Advent I ask you to burn away the darkness in my own heart.
Burn away the unbelief.
Burn away the wounds that I’ve carried too long.
Burn away the sins that I cherish, and the sins that I abhor.
Burn away the chains.

Christ as a light, illumine and guide me*
Make visible the things I try to hide.
Make clear the things I try to ignore.
Shine your light in all the dark corners of my soul.

Christ as a light, illumine and guide me*
Meet me here,
In the darkness,
In the light,
In the waiting,
In my need.
Meet me here in mercy.
Meet me here with grace.

Christ as a light, illumine and guide me*
The Christ child comes,
The light of the world breaks forth,
Arise, O sleeper,
Arise from the dead,
Step out of the dark,
And Christ will shine on You.

*This particular line is taken from the Celtic Book of Daily Prayer



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Jill December 9, 2015 - 6:04 am

Thank you, thank you – this puts words to what I am seeing and longing for in my own life. Thankful for the Light who dispels all darkness!

Joy Lenton December 9, 2015 - 10:29 am

It can be a hard and painful call to allow the laser beam of God’s light to shine on our sin, yet when we do we discover how it marvellously melts into the warmth of grace and we can breathe a little easier, face the light with greater confidence and sense the deep healing work within. Thank you, Beth, for sharing your story and encouraging us to lean a little closer to the light of His presence.

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