I watched her from my car while I tried to nap. She was in her thirties, hair pulled into a scrunchie and screaming at someone. She parked her hectic minivan. Kids poured out and I noticed a plastic, duct-taped window that was peeling off. The kids raced into the church and she slowly emerged from the drivers’ seat, baby on her hip and a toddler clinging her pants belt loop. She slung a purse over her shoulder and the strap simultaneously broke, spilling the contents all over the parking lot. Grunting loudly, she bent down still holding the baby, who was upside down by now, and painfully stuffed the contents back into her purse. The toddler started chasing the rolling items and accidentally kicked them instead, propelling them further across the parking lot. Mom screamed. Receipts blew in the wind.
Reacting in Love
I helped her retrieve everything and she murmured something while puffing at her bangs to get them out of her eyes. She retreated into the church with the cloud of chaos following her like the cloud stench followed Pig Pen from the Peanuts. I looked on with love. I fought not to run after her and hug her. Then I laughed because her van doors were left wide open. Clearly, this was her life.
I loved her because I was her. I am her. Life is so messy and uncontained. It doesn’t fit in neat packages and spills everywhere often. I usually feel like the Tasmanian devil from the Looney Tunes, traveling everywhere in a whirlwind. Family needs. Household needs. Work needs. I don’t know if we’re coming or going.
The Salt and the Light
We all know in Matthew chapter five Jesus commanded all Christians to be the salt and the light of the world. I love the notion. Salt is nice: it flavors, preserves, and causes thirst. That’s a great concept! And light is always needed. It illuminates and warms. We absolutely should be these things. If I hear a sermon about these topics, I’m usually utterly inspired. I’m high, motivated, provoked to fulfill this command. Yes! I proclaim passionately. I will be these things! I bang the desk or dinner table for more impact.
Then life happens. Problems arise, emotions are stirred, temptations tempt, the washer breaks, the dog is sick, and dinner’s not ready. At nine twenty-seven that night I remember: I was supposed to be the salt. I was supposed to be the light.
I sigh and go to bed. Tomorrow, I think. Tomorrow I’ll be the salt and the light. However, as I float between consciousness and sleep, I wonder: how can I be the salt and light when I’m just trying to survive?
Here are some things we can remember about being the salt and light:
It’s not about doing, it’s about believing
Belief is massively more effective than any work or deed you could ever do. Not superficial belief or simply saying you believe something. But true, sincere belief of every single sacred word of Scripture. Even if your emotions or circumstances tell you it’s ridiculous. Earnest, genuine belief is a power unmatched in a sea full of unbelieving believers. Every good work and accomplishment we complete in Christ’s name will be tainted and rendered useless if it’s tinged with stubborn unbelief. If you truly believe, however, your power and effectiveness within your circle of influence will be unparalleled. If you must choose between sincere belief and deeds, choose belief. Deeds will follow.
Transparency is key
The world is hungry for visible Christians who acknowledge they love Jesus with their entire being, but they mess up. They struggle. People need to witness believers with hearts genuinely desiring to please our Father. We need to be relatable; otherwise we’ll be untouchable and irrelevant. Transparency is free and takes no time. A perfect partial solution to our dilemma. The world needs to see what a Christian life really looks like.
Fear dims your light
Nothing places your light under a bowl quicker than fear. Fear is the dark blanket thrown over the fire. Fear will prevent you from everything: sharing your love for Christ, honoring His name, loving your neighbor. You may as well crawl into your casket if you cow to fear continually. It’s not life; it’s just existing.
If you can sincerely believe the entire Bible, be transparent, and shun fear, your saltiness and brilliance will be unhindered. You really can do it, even amongst the chaos. Jesus knew our lives would be disorderly, yet He called us to be the salt and light anyway. Jesus is not unrealistic or overly demanding; He knows there is a way for very real, very human people to shine His light to a dark world. He called us to be fishers of men even when He knew we may not have a free hand to hold a fishing pole. Be encouraged, Friend, as we astutely carry out our noble mission.