A glow gathering in the distance, light begins to peek through the trees. Gray clouds turn to pink, dark skies fade to orange, and the world wakes. As the sun blazes into view, darkness flees and a new day dawns.
All throughout Scripture, light is repeatedly mentioned in reference to God. We understand this imagery instinctually. A sunrise meets us every morning. A nightlight stops bad dreams. Flashlights lead the way down narrow paths. Light wakes us, warms us, comforts us, and guides us over and over again.
With each new dawn, we make lists, planning out our schedules and tasks. With the dawn of a new year, we band together as a community, making resolutions and telling one another that this year will be different. As others make plans for the coming year, the perfectionist in me screams that this year was a waste because I didn’t lose any weight. And I didn’t start my side hustle. And I also didn’t organize my life how I wanted. So, my knee-jerk response is to get out a notebook and make plans for next year.
In 2023, I will exercise four times a week.
In 2023, I will clean out those boxes stacked in the spare room.
In 2023, I will cut out sugary drinks completely from my diet.
So, this time next year, I will be skinnier, more accomplished, better than I ever was—as long as I follow through on my resolutions.
This time of year, we make lists, picking our lives apart for small ways to improve. We seek ways to become the “best us” we can be, searching for answers within ourselves. But as the world preaches the salvation of self-care, God calls his people to a life of holiness, emulating him, in order to become children of light (John 12:36). Sobefore we plan our lists for 2023, let’s look to Christ first and foremost.
THE LIGHT OF CHRIST WAKES OUR SLEEPY SOULS
As the sun wakes the earth, the light of Christ shakes awake our longing hearts, bringing life to the lost. Without the loving sacrifice of Jesus, we would be dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). But in Christ, we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), made alive through his loving mercy (Eph. 2:5). In John 8, Christ preaches to those around him, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (v. 12). Not only is Christ the Light of the World, but he also openly offers his light to us, moving us from death to life.
THE LIGHT OF CHRIST WARMS US FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Light will always be transformational. The darkest and deepest cave of this world will automatically become visible the second that light enters it. As such, the darkest parts of our souls will be exposed and brightened as we experience the transformational love of Christ. It is impossible for darkness to overcome the light, just as it is impossible for the holiness of God to be overcome by the wickedness of this world (John 1:5). As we are transformed from children of darkness to children of light, God commands us to walk differently—away from darkness and in the light as he is in the light (1 John 1:7).
THE LIGHT OF CHRIST COMFORTS OUR DOUBTING HEARTS
From the very beginning, God declared that the light was good (Gen. 1:3–4). If we walk in the light, we can take comfort that he has declared it good and pleasing to him. No matter how far gone we may feel, if we have the light of Christ, we are his children. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Yet the Lord sees ‘light’ in your heart, for He has put it there, and all the cloudiness and gloom of your soul cannot conceal your light from His gracious eye.” Let us take comfort in his loving-kindness, because his is a kindness that forgives our sins and forgets our darkness altogether.
THE LIGHT OF CHRIST GUIDES OUR STEPS FOR THE FUTURE
Repeatedly, the Lord reassures his people that he has their future in hand. Thus, we are not to worry about tomorrow (Matt. 6:34) but rather let the Word of God guide our actions. In Psalm 119, the psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v. 105). God’s Word glows before us, moving us one step at a time, with new grace and mercy every morning (Lam. 3:22–23). So with his Word leading our way, let us step forward into the new year, freshly guided by his wisdom rather than our own frail insight.
Never was there a more fitting name for Christ than the Light of the World. In Zechariah’s prophecy after the birth of his son, John, he proclaims, “Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78–79 CSB). How beautiful it is to know that Christ is our great Dawn from on high, therefore bringing his light into the world and granting it to each of his people.
As a new year and new dawn break, rather than looking internally to our own faulty wisdom or externally to a fallen world, let us look eternally—to a Savior who is light itself, the Dawn from on high. We can go into this next year knowing fully that God alone is the one who wakes, warms, comforts, and guides his people.