A young man, who’d been in my youth ministry twenty-five years earlier, walked into my church one day. After catching up with each other, he got to the point.
“I stopped by to say thanks for saving my life.”
That’s a conversation starter.
He went on to explain how, as a youth, he’d stopped by my office one afternoon. He’d confessed to me different things in that meeting. I had listened, given counsel, but mostly had simply affirmed him.
Now, two and a half decades later, he said that he’d been contemplating suicide that day. Because I happened to be in my office and listened to him, that put him on a different course. Gave him some hope.
I hadn’t remembered at all that conversation which saved him. I’d simply given him some time.
When Jesus said we should let our light shine in the world, it doesn’t necessarily have to be dramatic. Proactive acts of mercy and justice are essential, of course. Maybe, though, letting our light shine also means letting people know we’re in our office, and they can stop by and find someone who’ll give them some attention.
We certainly divide our attention in many fractured ways, faces transfixed in the glow of smartphones being the most obvious. Such diversions send an unmistakable message. “Too busy, do not disturb.”
A healthy spiritual exercise is being conscious of how approachable you are. Can a family member, coworker, stranger, whoever, see that you’re in your well-lit office with the door open?
Jesus smartly concluded that when people see that your light’s on, they will glorify God. It will be as if, in finding someone who will give them attention, they will encounter God. What else would you call the experience of compassion, understanding, acceptance, affirmation, hope?
Keeping your light on will reveal the reflection of God in your face. People need to see that.
The irony is that you might not even know you’re reflecting until decades later.