Summary: Find guidance and gladness, relief and rest, when you let Christ reign in your life.
In 2001, the Richards family of Canberra, Australia, set the Guinness World Record for the most holiday lights ever on a private residence – 331,038 bulbs, to be exact. It was a record that stood for more than a decade.
Then, in 2012, Tim Gay and his family from LaGrangeville, New York, beat the world record. They decorated their house with 346,283 lights, and synchronized them to music.
But the Richards would not be beat, so the next year, in 2013, they decorated their house with more than half a million lights, 502,165 to be exact, utilizing more than 29 miles of wire.
However, Tim Gay couldn’t let that record stand. So last year (2014), he and his family from New York covered their own house and its grounds with a display that involved 601,736 lights, synchronized to more than 200 songs. The whole thing took roughly two months to build, and it covered two acres.
Tim Gay told Guinness on the occasion of his win: “My family and I are thrilled to bring the World Record back to the United States.” He added, “And we're even more excited that we did it with nearly 100,000 more lights than the previous record.” (Megan Garber, “The Intense Competition to Be the World's Most-Decorated House,” The Atlantic, 12-19-14; www.PreachingToday.com)
Somewhere along the way, these two families lost the original meaning of Christmas. And if we’re not careful, we can lose it too with our own mad frenzy of bigger and better. This time of year, some people buy into the “Christmas Stuffers” – Stuff your stockings, Stuff your face, Stuff your calendars, Race, race, race!
When you look around, you wonder Where is the peace? Where is the joy? Where is the contentment this season is supposed to bring?
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. (ESV)
That light, of course, is Jesus Christ. He came to this earth during the Roman occupation of Israel. It was a dark time for them. They were in great distress and spiritually blind, but Jesus came as a light to show them the way back to God and the way back to blessing.
And Jesus wants to do the same thing for you. In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” When we walk with Christ, we enjoy the comforting light of His presence. However, when we refuse to follow Christ, all that’s left for us to do is stumble around in the frightening darkness of desperation.
Pastor Todd Hunter, in his book Giving Church Another Chance, talks about the days when he was ministering at a church in Anaheim, California. During one of their services, there was a blackout when an automobile accident knocked out the power line to their building. For some reason, the emergency lights failed, as well, with nearly 3,000 people in the room and close to a 1,000 children in the area behind the sanctuary.
Pastor Todd was sitting in the front row of the church. He was only a dozen steps from the hallway leading to the children; but the darkness was so overwhelming and disorienting, he found it very difficult as he groped his way there.
When Pastor Todd finally reached the door that led to a long hallway, he saw one of the mothers, who had beat him to the door. She had a small flashlight on her key chain and was making her way to her children. Her small light didn't illumine the whole hallway, but it reoriented the whole scary moment. Soon others found emergency flashlights in the classrooms, and still others shined their car headlights through the classroom windows, and they were able to get all the kids out to safety.
After about five or ten minutes, Pastor Todd made his way back to the sanctuary. He said it looked like a 1960s rock concert. All the baby boomers had gotten out their Bic lighters and were waving them around as if "Hey Jude" was being performed by the Beatles. Pastor Todd says, “As funny as that was, what I still remember twenty years later is the enormous power of that mom's flashlight to bring hope and orientation to a seriously unnerving moment.” (Todd D. Hunter, Giving Church Another Chance, IVP, 2010, p. 78; www.PreachingToday.com)
That’s what Jesus wants to do for you. He wants to bring hope and orientation to your seriously unnerving moments. So please, stop walking AWAY from Him in your sin. Instead, walk WITH Him through life, trusting Him every step of the way with your life and your eternal destiny. Walk in His light, and…