pastoral/spiritual care

Light of God

My favorite American holiday for pure quirkiness is Groundhog Day. In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a groundhog named Phil comes out of his hole, as he has every February 2 for over a century. If it is a cloudy day, he will stay outside, signaling the coming of an early spring — according to legend. If the morning is sunny, however, Phil will retreat back into his hole, spooked by his own shadow, foretelling six more weeks of winter.

It is easy for us to have a similar response to the light of God — to run from it, retreating to what is familiar instead. The light can be frightening, casting shadows of the darkest parts of our true selves that make us want to turn away. We don’t always like what we see, and would rather try to hide it from others and from God, if such a thing were possible.  The writer of Psalm 27 proposes a different response to God’s light.  Rather than being afraid of this light, the psalmist says instead, “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? . . . For in the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. . . My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek.”  This writer is inviting us to seek God, to make God’s house our dwelling, and to run to — not away from — God in times of trouble. God already knows and loves us as we are, warts and all. God’s light may bring out things that are difficult for us to see because they are things that need to be changed. But basking in the warmth of God’s light is also life-giving, bringing out the best of who we were created to be.

Lord, we do seek your face. Help us to run to you – not away from you – in the day of trouble, and to delight in you in happy times. May your light help us to see ourselves as we really are, showing us what we need to change about ourselves, and also revealing the beauty you have placed in each of us. Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent


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