At the beginning of this year I took a mini vacation to Portland with a few friends. It was my first time renting a car and as the designated rental car driver, I found myself laughing at how easy it was to drive in Oregon versus California. To begin, people actually seemed to obey traffic laws.

Well…except for me.

My three travel-buddies and I were on a quest to find dinner. Naturally we piled in our rented Nissan and set off to roam the not-so-terribly complicated streets of Portland.

“Go right up here.”

“Up where? Here?” I asked flustered, pulling a quick right.

Siri began squawking (as did my companions) when we quickly realized that I had turned onto a one-way, metro train-access-only street. Facing the wrong direction.

It was on that street, devoid of all other traffic and lights that I realized I had not turned on my own headlights.

I know, I know. But the car I have driven for the past 8 years has automatic lights. No, it’s not fancy. It was just designed for a senile 90 year-old.  Yes, I am making excuses.

Cue screaming in terror.

The metro train immediately began to protest my presence on its street by sounding its long, bellowing horn.

You know in horror movies when you get really annoyed with the main character because they aren’t doing that thing that you want them to do? Or they are just doing it really slowly? This was one of those moments. If someone had been watching a movie of my life they would’ve been screaming, “REVERSE!!! PUT IT IN BLEEPING REVERSE!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!”

Oh, so many things…

After fumbling with the gearshift and a whole bunch of nonsensical words coming out of my mouth (that were really mostly just sounds), I did eventually get it in reverse. After all the commotion died down and we were safely on a side-street facing the right direction, one question resounded within the group.

“How on earth did you NOT have your lights on?”

Mehhhhhh.

Shortly followed by, “Have we been driving without our lights on the WHOLE time?!”

No. Possibly. Maybe. Not all of the time. Actually…I’m not really sure.

The city lights, streetlamps, and other car headlights provided such a well-lit setting that I hadn’t even noticed MY lights weren’t on.

Later, after we were out of mortal danger, I began thinking about how many times in life I had been in a situation where I quickly became aware that my “lights” weren’t on. Many us who are involved in church and Christian communities surround ourselves with people and places that shine brightly.  I’ve stuck to the well-lit streets because that’s where I’ve felt comfortable. Like a little bug to streetlamps, I found myself gravitating towards the light of others and letting their brightness guide me. No one even noticed that I didn’t have my light switched on because there were so many others shining.

What’s scary about this kind of living is that eventually there will be situations, events, decisions that we face alone. Like me, you’ll turn down the wrong street and find yourself in a dark alley, devoid of light, bereft of direction, maybe with a train barreling down on you. And then what? You fumble around in the dark, making nonsense sounds? In this scenario, we make no lasting or noticeable impact on our environment because we blend in so seamlessly.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.…” (Matthew 5:14-15)

Notice this scripture says YOU are the light. Jesus said it’s YOU, empowered by His everlasting light. No per-requisites. No special criteria.  Just a willingness to be transparent and let Him shine.

Each one of us was gifted with our own light.  Your light is not meant to be shut off at any point or hidden so that it would not offend those in the dark places. We were given the light for the dark places. If a street is already lit, your light doesn’t do a whole lot…as I found out on my joy ride through Portland.

But along the dark streets, your light makes all the difference. It’s a matter of life and death for some. It’s a lifeline… it shows that there is an escape route from a life of shadow, confusion, and panic. There doesn’t need to be extensive research to see the darkness in our world. It is dense and oppressive. But imagine the spectacular display that could result from each of us glowing with the light of our Savior.

The light we possess is not of our own making. It is not of us; it is not because we are great. My car’s headlights have nothing to do with me. They were installed by the car manufacturer. Likewise, our lights are gifted to us by the Manufacturer or our lives. God gave us the ability to shine so that we could reflect His light, goodness, and love to those struggling in the dark.

Leave your light on so that you may show others a different way. Leave your light on so you remember that YOU are not lost.Leave your light on so that others can see the Source of your light.

Coleen York

Coleen York is the founder and editor of She Has Worth. She works as a freelance copywriter and editor, so feel free to hire her so she has employment. Additionally, she enjoys being outside, traveling, dinosaurs, art, Oreos, slurpees, and coffee (but not all together, that would probably be gross). Read more about Coleen in the "Our Team" section of She Has Worth.

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