Christmas lights inspire wonder throughout this season. Ever since I was a girl, I’ve taken as many opportunities as possible to enjoy Christmas lights: lighting Advent candles, stringing colorful bulbs on Christmas trees at home and at church, visiting holiday light shows, and wandering through neighborhoods looking for creative light displays. One night I was so caught up in awe from Christmas lights that I lost track of time and distance. By the end of that evening, I’d spent about 5 hours and driven nearly 100 miles seeking out various neighborhood light displays. Consider your own memories of encountering wonder through Christmas lights. Just thinking about them can make you smile! Why do lights inspire awe? It’s not just because of their beauty. It’s also because of what they symbolize: life (from a loving Creator who cares for creation), wisdom (spiritual enlightenment) and hope (redemption from darkness). Christmas lights, in particular, shine as powerful symbols of hope. They direct our attention to Jesus Christ, who tells us in the Bible: “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). Despite the darkness of suffering in our fallen world, we can still experience the wonder of light. Light is always stronger than darkness. Physically, the photons in light can dispel darkness, but darkness can’t dispel light. Even a small amount of light will be visible in a large amount of darkness. Just go into a completely dark room and light a tiny candle to see that principle at work.
Spiritually, the light of hope can dispel the darkness of despair even in the toughest situations. We can trust Jesus to encourage and guide us in the dark, and to redeem our suffering for good purposes. As I write in Wake Up to Wonder, Jesus is a trustworthy and powerful light. The Bible tells us about Jesus: "The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." - John 1:4-5 (NLT). Our relationships with God turn on the light of hope in our souls. Then we can shine our light into this world, as well. Christmas lights remind us to stay plugged into a connection with God, our ultimate power source. They enlighten us to choose what’s good in a world where much has gone wrong. They highlight God’s strength. They radiate hope.