September 10, 2004
Encouragement for Today
A Room where the Light Shines In
SpeakerTeam Member and Director of Spanish Ministry
In Him (Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men. John 1:4 (NIV)
"All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air." These are the words Eliza Doolittle, the poor flower girl, sings in the musical My Fair Lady. They filled my thoughts one evening this summer as I attended a simple church service on a neglected hillside high above the city of Guadalajara, Mexico.
The journey up the hill to the church was a treacherous one. Nine of us piled into a van and bumped along at 15 miles per hour, avoiding huge ruts, crawling around discarded tires and misplaced boulders, and pausing for a stray dog to limp across the road. Occasionally, Jim, our driver, put the van in reverse when the road was washed out or the water was too deep. Once we arrived, I stepped onto the dirt road and followed my hosts through a wooden fence. On a slope of hard packed dirt with outcroppings of grass and some flowering bushes, I found myself in the front yard of a very humble dwelling and next to the "church". In the "front yard", I spotted a lone shoe, one dirty sock, a wadded t-shirt. Several skinny and sleepy dogs had curled up to watch the gathering people. Chickens pecked at the dirt. All around me children ran, laughed, and wiped their dirty noses.
Victoria, our hostess, all smiles, offering hugs and kisses for her visitors, walked through the beach towel that was her front door. She had pitched a tarp over a few poles and strung an electrical wire to light up the "church". On Tuesday night her children were tutored, she practiced her new-found reading skills, and the neighborhood, along with the missionaries who had found her, gathered for worship.
Music came from the guitar and people moved toward the tarp-covered rows of chairs. There was no door to shut out the noise of the world: barking dogs, roaring water trucks, and loud lively Latino lyrics accompanied by worldly rhythms. We sang a hymn in Spanish with no hymnals because no one read, but they had memorized the words. A dog walked up the aisle and scooted through the Christmas-poinsettia table-cloth door into the kitchen on the other side of the boards. Two chickens flew up and roosted on the backs of chairs. The music continued as these humble people worshipped their King.
I caught myself studying Victoria's house which shared a wall or two with the church. There were no windows, no stoop to the front door, only a washed out steep incline into the dark shack. No two boards matched. Some overlapped. Gaps were obvious. I considered the conditions inside during this rainy season and couldn't fathom living in such an environment. There were so many places for wind, cold, and moisture to enter, not to mention flies, mice, and other uninvited quests. How could people survive such conditions? Survive indeed! Everywhere faces were glad, laughter was rich. Happiness ruled!
While the pastor addressed his flock in soft Spanish sounds, my ears were turned to the Lord, who spoke in heart-warming wondrous words. "Into this home my light shines. I am welcome to freely come in and abide here." I thought about the well constructed, tightly shut homes in my neighborhood in the United States where the gospel light was not welcome. There was no need for Jesus because there was plenty of artificial light and gas heat.
After the last amen, we piled in our van and drove away. Late that night I couldn't sleep. Making my way toward a gap, a place where the light might shine in, I drew the curtains aside and pushed open the window. My heart ached for the families who lived on that rejected and poverty-stricken hill. There it was again, that tune: "All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air..." I questioned God about the fairness of life. He assured me that there was a far better song to sing. "The Lord is my strength and song. He has become my salvation." (Exodus 15:2)
My prayer for today:
Jesus, please remind me that you alone are the light I need. Only you can provide the eternal warmth that lasts. I ask you to protect those among us who don't seem to have proper shelter. But more than anything, I pray that you shine in my life convincing me that nothing the world has to offer compares to your presence.
As you spend your time with God, consider what satisfies you. Do you remain content for long?
When you long for your heart to be filled, what do you turn toward?
Read the first chapter of the gospel of John. What are your thoughts concerning contentment?
Do I believe that God is enough?
Does the way I carry out my daily routine prove that I believe Jesus is all I need?
Is my contentment with my portion contagious? How so?
What are some steps I can take to move aside the things of the world so Jesus' light can be all sufficient for me?
Am I willing to give up everything I own in order to have a deeper relationship with my Lord?
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11 (NIV)
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. John 1:14 (MSG)
Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. John 3:19 (NLT)
He has said this to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NAS)
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. Revelation 21:7 (NKJV)
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