Hello readers, and happy Friday! If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling excited that January is nearly over. I don’t even live in a very cold climate, yet I find myself daydreaming about the sun and warmth we’ve been missing for a while now.

I recently saw a saying on Facebook that went something like my favorite thing about winter is when it’s over.

Yup, that about sums it up!

My apologies for the random weather commentary, but the dreariness of these desperately needed wet, wintery days have me dwelling on the importance of light. Indeed, studies show that light is critical to our very health and wellbeing, contributing to things like our alertness, mood, productivity, and even sleep patterns.

The former scientist in me loves reading about the physiological impacts of light, but I can’t help but be drawn into the spiritual implications of light. And as it so often happens, my children provide many well-timed lessons that God uses to hit home a concept He’s pressing into me.

One such illustration occurred earlier this week. My husband and son have taken to holding WWE-like wrestling matches every evening. I know, not exactly pediatrician-approved for winding down for bed! But, they both enjoy it enormously, and there’s nothing I love more than seeing Isaiah’s red, sweaty face light up with anticipation and hearing his most perfect of belly laughs. It’s soul-soothing music to this mama’s ear.

Isaiah has, however, inherited his mama’s tendency to overheat, and his precious flushed cheeks certainly give him away as mine. So to cool off, he and Aaron will run out the front door into the dark night—barefoot feet taking in frigid pavement beneath them—and make a little lap around the driveway. The wintry California air meets their damp, warm skin, producing chill bumps and sending them back inside with a hearty “brrrr!!!”

My son loves this little nightly tradition, yet for some reason, this week he balked at going out into the dark—he was afraid and refused to follow Aaron outside, proclaiming his fear with the vehement shaking of his head and a stern no.

In an effort to coax him out, Aaron grabbed a small but powerful flashlight he received as a little Christmas gift and began showing Isaiah how it worked and how it would light the way for them. In sweet, simple childlike language, I heard my husband say to him, the dark can be scary, but all we need to do is shine a little light into it.

At these words, I put down my book and mentally repeated what I’d just heard, struck by the parallels for us as Christians walking in a dark world. This world is dark and it certainly is scary—but in a similar way, all we need is to shine some light into the darkness.

What the flashlight does for our physical darkness, God’s glorious truth does for the deeper, thicker darkness surrounding us:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105 NIV).

During His ministry on earth, Jesus spoke of Himself, saying:

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 NIV).

Wow—what a promise, that we will never walk in darkness … no matter how dark some days may feel, we can hold fast to the promise that His light is always within us, no matter how small the flicker.

Even more amazing—and challenging!—is how God calls us as His children to be light while we walk the earth. God didn’t imbue us with light simply that we may enjoy that light ourselves: it is a gift, one He intends us to share with others.

In Matthew 5, Jesus explains:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (vv. 14-16 NIV).

So, I have to ask you the same hard question I have to ask myself: where are you bringing light into the world? Into your family, your kids, your neighbors, your work, your church, your friends, even the grocery store clerk where you shop?

Are you lighting up the dark corners with which you come into contact? Or are you hiding your light under a pile of busyness, fear, self-focus, or apathy?

Believe me, this is not an easy question to ask of oneself. Just this week, the Lord convicted me of my self-focused attitude regarding Isaiah and his speech. Currently, we’re in some form of speech therapy 3 days a week, and at times I find it exhausting. In the midst of a full-on whiny, “airing of grievances” session with the Lord, He gently but firmly told me to stop and think about other people—namely, all the people with whom I’m coming into contact on account of all this therapy.

God has brought therapists and other moms and kids and all kinds of people into our life through Isaiah’s speech disability. I was reminded that perhaps one of these beautiful people, with whom my life is now weekly intertwined, might be in need of some light . . . and vice versa.

It was a sobering reminder that God’s plans for His people and this world are far more important than my immediate happiness and ease. I would never have chosen to be on this path of intensive speech therapy—but I rest in knowing that He is working out greater things behind the scenes, things that may never be made fully known to me!

So as we head into another month of wintery cold and early sunsets, I encourage you to remember the light glowing within you. Those in your sphere of influence need it! And who knows what impact you may have on another person’s life—you just might be the flicker of warmth and hope someone needs to keep going today.

Shine on, sweet friend.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2 NIV).