Shining Brighter in the New Year

by Patti Richter

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  John 1:4-5

I heaved a sigh of relief as my husband, Jim, pulled a chunk of splintered wood from the palm of my hand. A small piece remained behind, however, and weeks later, though I couldn’t see it, the splinter still smarted if I touched the right spot.

Jim’s own little splinter was more elusive. He’d rubbed one eye for days after using his drill to repair a mailbox. A doctor’s bright light revealed an embedded metal shard, which he successfully removed.

Illumination is so helpful in spotting hidden issues—like mold. We signed a contract to buy a house that had everything we’d been looking for, but an inspector with a high-intensity lamp found this problem. We learned the mold could be removed for a hefty sum of money, and also how to avoid the threat of mold in the future. How much easier and less expensive these preventative measures would have been!

Today’s technology includes the blessings of tests, machines, and lights that reveal abnormalities and dangers otherwise unseen, especially regarding physical maladies that might lurk within. Some people, like me, put off health checks. We’d rather not know what might be amiss; we prefer to wait in blissful ignorance unless our bodies signal an alarm. So, for the present time, we avoid anxious hours of awaiting test results. But we might later regret this head-in-the-sand outlook.

At the dawn of each new year, we may tend to prioritize self-improvement—mostly physical health and fitness. Spiritually, however, our fix-it list requires more than resolutions. But while the thoughts and intentions of our heart are not hidden from God, we may delude ourselves that we can deal with any dark spots on our own.

Luke’s Gospel includes a scene of Jesus teaching a crowd about the need to have a life full of inner light, “no part of it dark” (Luke 11:36-42 NIV). Afterward, a Pharisee who’d invited him to dinner expressed concern that Jesus did not wash up before the meal, as their custom dictated. (I wonder if Jesus passed by the water bowl to spark a needful conversation.) Jesus responded by saying it’s foolish to cleanse the outside parts while ignoring corruption on the inside, such as “greed and wickedness” (vv. 39 – 40). Jesus further rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the law for performing righteous acts while neglecting “justice and the love of God” (v. 42). God could see right past their self-righteousness to their dark hearts.

Serving God without nurturing a relationship with him—through prayer, Scripture study, worship, and the fellowship of believers—never worked out for the saints of old. Israel’s glory years during the reign of King Solomon went bust soon after his son, Rehoboam, inherited the throne. Rehoboam “did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:14). This was likely a sin of neglect since Rehoboam surely knew God’s greatest command to his people, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV). We allow His light to shine in our dark places when we seek Him.

“Light has come into the world,” through Jesus Christ, and we are justified—made right with God—by faith in his name. Our sanctification process, however, requires that we continually yield those dark recesses of our hearts to the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit. His work in us will bring effective remediation.

Shining Brighter in the New Year – Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Patti Richter headshot 2017-1nAbout the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She writes and edits global mission stories for The Gospel Coalition and her faith essays appears at

Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of SufferingIt is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: How do you “seek the Lord” as you walk with Him?


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