Be The Light

I want to share a story that changed my life… It’s a bit lengthy but please bear with me until the end because I promise I get to the point.

Every day while doing regular things like driving, cooking or cleaning, I talk to God. I think of how good He has been to me and I thank Him. This has been a part of my life ever since I found out that He is alive and well. You see, I didn’t always know that Jesus is real. As a little girl growing up, I had heard of Him because my grandmother used to have someone come to our home and read bible books to my older brother and me. I also sang Christian songs with her and I remember thinking they’re so beautiful. I still have that songbook with my grandmother’s handwriting in it. However, when she took us to church, I used to see a dead Jesus on a cross and on her necklace, (I even felt sorry for Him! I thought ‘the people that killed him were so mean!’ Ignorance at its finest). I did not realize or perhaps understood that He was alive and that I could personally have a relationship with Him. 

That all changed around 1999. While in College back in Brooklyn, I worked at a Senior Center. The Director (Michelle) was a Christian. She was very approachable, kind and funny. We quickly became friends. The way she introduced The Living God to me was something that I had not heard of nor experienced before. She talked to me about God almost daily. She told me bible stories and it was so interesting to hear her say that the disciples were people just like us. I had no idea! Up until that point, I thought the bible was an unrelatable book with unreal stories. Whatever happened there, stayed there and it no longer applied. However, Michelle broke it down plainly and made it very relatable. She told me that most of the New Testament is made up of letters written by the disciples and I was fascinated to learn that they used to start their letters with regular greetings just as we do now, “Hey it’s me Paul how are you guys” etc… 

Michelle was very relatable and real but she did not shy away from sharing the truth of what she had been through. While she was teaching and encouraging me, she herself was going through her own battles. However, she let me know that God kept her together. That was the beauty of God in all of it. Michelle inspired me. I wanted to be more like her. I wanted to know more of the God she spoke of because He sounded pretty cool and mine was dead. 

One day while at work on a Friday evening, Michelle told me that if I were available, she would pick me up that Sunday at 8am to go to church. I was taken by surprise because although I wanted to know Him, I had not been to church in years and I was not ready to commit! Long story short, she picked me up and off to church we went. I remember not clearly understanding what they were talking about but something about that place was different. That was the first time I heard the pastor say that Jesus was in the house. I was a bit confused and looked around like wait…where? Nevertheless, inside of me, I felt a peace and a joy that I had never felt before. The pastor made an altar call and I went up. He asked the people to close their eyes and that Jesus was going to touch them… He told us to talk to God. I did not know what to say so I said something like, “Hi God, I’m Carmen”. I remember a hand touched the top of my head and I almost ran out, I thought, “Oh He really is here!” I thought it was Jesus! I opened my eyes and it was one of the helpers of the church ha! That day I left with so much hope and joy. I remember I went home and I was telling everyone that Jesus is alive! I always thought there had to be more to life than just living until you die, cause that sounded pointless and exhausting . I was very naïve back then so finding out not only that Jesus is alive but also that He loves me and that there is a bigger purpose to life because he has a plan for me, was very much like a child opening a present! I thought of Him as my bodyguard and friend! Long story short, I never looked back. I could not wait to go to work the next day and talk about God with Michelle. After that day, I would take anyone that wanted to go with me to church! I would evangelize the streets in different cities and states with my church, etc. Michelle ended up giving me my first bible.

The reason I gave all of those details is to give a glimpse of how unaware or blind some people can be about the truth of God’s existence. I am certain that God used Michelle to introduce me to that truth. She is the light that God used in my darkness and then He did the rest. God said that we are the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). However, in my life, I have met different types of Christians. I have met some who assume everyone knows about God and choose to live in the dark, (because how could you not right? however, I did not!), and I have met some that remind me of Michelle, very relatable. I say that because if we, having the light of Christ and the knowledge of the Holy Spirit present ourselves as all knowing, judgmental, or hateful to those around us, but turn around and try to introduce them to our God, would they want to listen or be a part of that? Probably not. 

Jesus took the time to teach people about God, being God Himself! In fact, most of the gospel shows us examples of how Jesus showed love and compassion towards others especially the gentiles (who back then were considered the outcast or ‘unholy’ people). Looking back, I probably drove Michelle insane with my million and one questions!  I believe that she had a choice; she could have just acted in all her right like my boss and never taken the time to teach me, she could have rolled her eyes in disbelief of my ignorance or she could have chosen to be the light, be patient and Christ like with my child like mentality back then. She chose the latter. I thank God for Michelle!

Because of how I came to the knowledge of God’s love for me, I try to be mindful of how I talk to people about God, especially people that don’t know Him, have no relationship with Him or even those that have given up on Him. My point is that as believers, we should choose to be the light for others, especially those without faith. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, and if I am able, I try to be encouraging, practical and relatable because from my experience, meeting people where they are is very important. I believe there is always an opportunity to be the light. For example, one practical thing I try to do is bring the positive side to every situation or in every conversation in hopes of maybe helping the person see a different perspective, see the bigger picture or encourage them to not lose hope. However, I try not to be pushy, which could instead result in driving that person away. Now I am not saying it is always easy, I am still a work in progress but like Paul said in Philippians 3:10-16, (AMPC) – ‘My determined purpose is to know Him…to press on towards that goal! What about you? In someone else’s darkness, what is one way you can ‘be the light’?

Be encouraged!

© 2021 ~ Carmen Adolphus