The painting A Trail of Light by Colorado Springs artist Bob Simpich shows a grove of aspen trees with golden leaves lit by the autumn sun. The topmost leaves are brilliantly illuminated while the ground beneath the trees is a mixture of sunlight and shadows. The painter said of this contrast, “I can’t resist the light filtered through to the forest floor. It weaves a special magic.”
The apostle Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Corinth, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Paul goes on to describe the reality of life in which “we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; . . . perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (vv.8-9).
There are times when it seems that the light of God’s face is dimmed because of our difficulty, sorrow, or loss. Yet, even in these dark shadows, we can see evidence of His presence with us.
If we walk in filtered light today, may we discover anew that God’s light—Jesus—is always shining in our hearts.
Lord, shine the light of Your face on us that we may find our way to Your salvation. Shine Your light into the darkness that envelops our world that we may see who You are and show others the way to You.
In dark circumstances, God’s light is still shining in our hearts.
Despite the high price Paul paid to remain faithful to God (2 Cor. 11:23-28), he remained resilient and did not lose heart (4:1,14). He had been sustained by God’s sovereign power and sufficient grace (vv.7-9) and Christ’s resurrected life (vv.10-12).
A storm was brewing—not just on the horizon but also in a friend’s home. “When I was in Hong Kong,” she shared, “the local meteorological service announced that there was a superstorm approaching. But more than the storm that was looming outside my window, there was a storm brewing at home. While my dad was in the hospital, family members were trying to balance their home and work responsibilities while also traveling to and from the hospital. They were so tired that patience was wearing thin, and the situation at home was tense.”
Life can feel like a storm—tossing us around with winds of misfortune, grief, or stress. Where can we turn? When Jesus’ disciples were caught in a great windstorm and wondered if He cared, they still knew where to turn. He demonstrated His power by calming the howling storm (Mark 4:38-39).
But often He does not calm the storm immediately. And, like the disciples, we may feel that He doesn’t care. To calm our fears, we can cling to faith in who God is and what He can do. We can take shelter in Him (Ps. 91:1). We can find His help to relate to others with grace. We can rest in an all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving God. He is with us in the storm and cradles us through the storm.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea, Or demons or men, or whatever it be No waters can swallow the ship where lies The Master of the ocean, and earth, and skies. —Baker
One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think. —Brother Lawrence
Today’s passage from Mark recounts an incredible display of Jesus’ power. As the Lord of creation (Col. 1:15-17), Christ had the right and the authority to instruct the wind and the waves and have them obey Him. Yet this miracle caused the disciples to fear greatly, which prompted Jesus’ statement in verse 40. The disciples feared the storm more than they trusted the one who was with them in the boat. Jesus tells them (and us) to trust what we have seen in Him to get us through both the literal and metaphorical storms of life.
When I was growing up, one of the rules in our house was that we weren’t allowed to go to bed angry (Eph. 4:26). All our fights and disagreements had to be resolved. The companion to that rule was this bedtime ritual: Mom and Dad would say to my brother and me, “Good night. I love you.” And we would respond, “Good night. I love you too.”
The value of this family ritual has recently been impressed on me. As my mother lay in a hospice bed dying of lung cancer, she became less and less responsive. But each night when I left her bedside I would say, “I love you, Mom.” And though she could say little else, she would respond, “I love you too.” Growing up I had no idea what a gift this ritual would be to me so many years later.
Time and repetition can rob our rituals of meaning. But some are important reminders of vital spiritual truths. First-century believers misused the practice of the Lord’s Supper, but the apostle Paul didn’t tell them to stop celebrating it. Instead he told them, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).
Rather than give up the ritual, perhaps we need to restore the meaning.
Lord, when we observe the Lord’s Supper, help us avoid the trap of letting our observance grow routine. May we always be moved with gratitude for the wonderful gift of ritual.
Any ritual can lose meaning, but that does not make the ritual meaningless.
On the evening Jesus celebrated His last Passover with His disciples, He also established His own memorial supper. The unleavened Passover bread symbolized the exodus from Egypt, and the cup echoed the Old Testament promise, “I will redeem you.”