There was once a very happy young man. Everything was going his way and when he thought something was going against his plans, these unexpected complications, turned out to be better anyways. He was good looking – one of those people I’d not want to double date with because I’d be stuck in his shadow all night. He was wealthy – good luck and profits seemed to fall into his lap. He had great friends who admired him, supported him, and would always be there if he needed. To top it all off, he was also a very good person. He had great faith in God and understood that this faith meant he needed to stand up for those who couldn’t stand, and be a voice for those who’s voices were ignored.
Things were about to get even better. He’d saved up some of his money, hired masons and carpenters, and was having his own home built. It was about time to start his own family and he wanted to have a house to raise children with a spouse he loved. Being a smart person, he looked over the building site before starting and knew that if he put a window facing east, he’d be able to see the sun rise every day. He put his favourite seat in front of that window and as the sun rose, he say his daily prayers. This filled his life with contentment and joy because that sunrise reminded him that every day is a gift from God full of opportunity. Some morning he’d be sitting in that chair with tears of joy coming down his face because he was looking at the light of the world and eventually that’s what he called that window and view, “the light of the world” because looking through it reminded him of God.
One day some friends were over to visit and they were admiring the window and the beautiful view. The friends were visibly moved when they saw the sun rising. One of them even asked if she could lead the group in a prayer of thanksgiving to God for such beauty. One commented that of all his possessions, of all his good fortune, this was the greatest because of the daily reminder of God’s presence.The man was thrilled that his friends found the same joy he did, and offered to share his window with them any morning they wanted to come by.
One morning he was enjoying the light of God and he thought it would be nice to have more visual reminders of how blessed he was. He put a few pictures on the windowsill so he could give thanks for them as well. He put up a few pictures of family and pets, pictures of places he’d been and people he’d met.
One day he had an idea that he could honour God more if he decorated the light of the world. He put up some hangings and decals and prettified the whole thing so that it would not only make it more interesting to look at but also remind passers by and visitors just how important this window is.
His friends took to heart his invitation to come and look through his window and pray. He’d come to expect that once or twice a week, someone would come by to spend the morning with the man and the light of the world. At first, he welcomed the fellowship but something odd was happening. He didn’t quite understand and certainly wasn’t proud, but he started to feel jealous. In his mind, he knew that no matter how many people looked through that window, there would be light for all, but in his gut, he felt that he had to compete for the light, that sharing it would somehow lessen what he was able to enjoy. He decided that the window needed curtains. This way he could control who could look through at God – after all, when given something this beautiful, you really should try to control it, put some rules and policies in place. You wouldn’t want the wrong people looking through to the light of the world, or even the right people seeing God in the wrong way.
His friends didn’t understand. They were hurt that this wonderful gift that had been given them was now taken away and they stopped coming around. The young man was saddened and angered by this. He grew lonely. Yes, whenever he wanted he could peek through the curtains to be reminded of God’s presence, but he missed having friends to share it with and grew angry at them for abandoning him. He grew afraid that someone might try to break his window or steal unauthorized glances through it and so he though the safest thing to do was board it up.
There. The work was done and the light of the world was safe and secure. Oddly enough though, the joy that had filled his life, the contentment that he felt, and the deep connection to God seemed to have mysteriously faded. He still sat in his favourite chair each morning but his prayers were more from duty rather than joy. He knew that behind that wall was the light of world, safe and sound, but somehow it wasn’t bringing him as much joy as it once did.
He was growing more and more sad until one day he heard that there was a wise man travelling though his town. Maybe he’d know why his life was less satisfying even though he had in his own home and control, the light of the world.
He went to the wise man and asked,”what must I do?”
The wise man could see into his heart and could see that deep down this was a good person, full of promise but that somewhere along the way, he’d allowed too much selfishness and distraction get between himself and God.
“Do you follow the law? he asked.
“Of course I do, I obey all the commandments and I deeply love God and my neighbours but my neighbours have abandoned me and I can’t seem to find God andy more. Where have I lost my way.”
The wise man was filled with love for he knew everything the young man said was true. He also knew exactly what was ailing him. You see, all through his ministry, the wise one saw the same thing, time and time again – fear and jealousy interfering with love. He saw that the desire for more and more distract people from the blessings all around them. He told the young man the hard truth he didn’t want to hear – he’d have to rid himself of all he’d built up if he wished to once again find God.
The young man went away saddened because he’d worked so very hard for what he had. Why would he have to give up security and his comforts to find God? Didn’t God want him to enjoy the finer things in life? No, the wise man had to be wrong.
After a long and sad time though, he started to wonder. Maybe it was a small spark of faith that was left over from when he felt close to God. Maybe there was some truth in what the wise one said.
He looked at the board covering the window and thought, “maybe security that takes away from my relationship with God is no security at all. Maybe the only real security is in my relationship with God and neighbour.
He looked at the curtains and though about the need to control. Sure, rules and regulations can be helpful, but when do they end up stifling? When do rules become something to hide behind rather than a guide to a better, more freeing life. He looked at those curtains and also realized that it wasn’t only there to stop others from looking through to see the light of the world, but also to stop God from looking back at him. He was hiding from what God called him to do, and hiding from the unmeasurable, untameable, and therefore frightening love God offered.
He took away the decorations and pictures seeing that he’d become distracted. It’s not the shiny sign that says, “God this way!” that’s important but God. It wasn’t even the window that he looked through to see God that was beautiful but God.
He once again saw that the light of the world shines and there’s nothing that we can do to control it or stop it. If we want to bask in it’s warmth, we don’t need to festoon or bejewel. We don’t need to build grand monuments that ultimately point to our own grandeur rather than God’s. We don’t need to domesticate the light so that only the right people are warmed in the right way. We don’t need to worry that the light will run out if we share it with the world. This is God’s light and if we let it, it will warm all of our days and even reflect off us so that others can better know God through the light we shine.