The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world (John 1:9). This key biblical text for early Friends contributed to the shape of their theology. Their emphasis was on the power of the Light of Christ rather than on human sinfulness, although it was that power’s ability to bring change in their lives that mattered. The Light revealed what was hidden, it convicted, and then it empowered change.
Recently I’ve become aware of some small examples in my life of what that might be like. A friend I see only on rare occasions reminds me at those times of some words I said to her years ago in a particular context and place. I at best vaguely remember the occasion and have no sense that my words came from any spiritual depth or wisdom. But for her, those words gave her hope when she was despairing. She must have experienced through the words a light that allowed her to see a clearer picture of her condition, brought her worry up short, and comforted her so that she could go forward in greater peace. A little incident, but significant enough in her life that she continues to remember it.
While in Rome for a family wedding I was asked by a friend why I did a particular behavior. Her tone kept what she said a question and not a criticism. And I gave her a quick and reasonable answer. But the question stuck—a light shone on that issue. Later I was able to reflect on the revealed behavior, see it for what it was, and choose to change, although I wondered how I would be able to. As if the prayer of my heart were answered, I was empowered to live differently, at least for a time. The old behavior remains in the light, and the desire of my heart to change is not forgotten. I am more aware of what the behavior does to another. I remain dependent on Christ to live in the new.
When has someone’s words revealed to you what was hidden in you?
What has enabled you to change—for a short time or more permanently? And how could you or do you stay connected with that power?
May your light shine in my heart revealing what is hidden and needs the light of day. Increase my consciousness of your light in my life, and the openness of my heart to be changed.
For further reflection:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8: 12).
Your strength is to stand still, after ye see yourselves; whatsoever ye see yourselves addicted to, temptations, corruption, uncleanness, &c. then ye think ye shall never overcome. And earthly reason will tell you, what ye shall lose; hearken not to that, but stand still in the Light, that shows them to you, and then strength comes from the Lord, and help contrary to your expectation: then ye grow up in peace, and no trouble shall move you. (George Fox, Epistle 10)