Two Kinds of Light

There is a saying:

“I have but one candle of life to burn, 
and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness 
than in a land flooded with light.”

But what if the land is flooded with artificial light?

Today in chapel, the speaker encouraged us to be salt and light, based on a passage of Scripture in Matthew 5:13-16. He explained the salt makes people thirsty. That light allows us to see, causes growth and is used best in the darkness.

But he had a picture of a flashlight on the screen. And all of the sudden I got to wondering about the "causes growth" idea. What is the difference between light produced by the Sun and light produced by electricity?

Artificial light cannot make plants grow.
There's something different about light that comes from the Sun, there's something else to it. Both produce light... but only the light from the Sun can produce life.

© Ashley Santiago
The quote at the beginning is an encouragement to do missions work. In a land where there is plenty opportunity to be exposed to light, the call is to go where there is only darkness, that the small light of my life would be used to its greatest capacity, where it shines brightest.

But may I be so bold as to say that artificial light could be even more dangerous than the darkness? Because the darkness is certainly not able to deny the presence of light... but artificial light has the semblance of true light. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 it says, "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." But we know the enemy comes only to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus, however, came to bring life. [John 10:10]
I am amazed by those who are called to the land flooded with artificial light. It is a noble and hard calling. It looks crazy! Those with artificial light shrug their shoulders and claim to have the same thing... but they cannot grow. There is no life.

So would I rather (as the quote says) use the candle of my life to shine in the dark places? Honestly, yes! Even if its a primal, cannibalistic culture, my light would shine true with acute contrast to the darkness. The difference is seen. It is something truly brave to take on a land flooded with artificial light... whatever that looks like. Because it could seem a waste. Your light doesn't seem as bright. It doesn't seem to make a difference.

But friends, do not be discouraged! Our little light is always of use because it comes from the Son! It's the real thing! Even in a land of artificial light, there will be a very distinct difference: only light from the Son can produce life.

And how are we that light? How are we salt?

"In this world we are like Jesus..." - 1 John 4:17
We are called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20-21), representing Him. And how did He say people would know we are His? That we are His disciples?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." 
- John 13:35 

"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another...  
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life. And we ought to lay down our lives... If anyone has material possessions and sees someone in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
- 1 John 3: 11,16-18 

"Who is it that overcomes the world?
Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." 
- 1 John 5:5 

"If you love Me you will obey My commands."
- John 14:15, 1 John 5:2-3

And that love looks like joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It looks like trusting, persevering, keeping no record of wrongs, rejoicing in truth... not boasting, envying or being proud. It is full of faith and hope, and it never fails. And it is not by our own strength, but as we live by the Spirit. His light shining through us.
Mark 9:50; Galatians 5:13-26, 6:10; 1 Corinthians 13

© Ashley Santiago
Where you are now is where you are called to be faithful to the task at hand. 
Whether surrounded by darkness or artificial light, there is only one True Light, of which we are witnesses. 

Our war is waged in love.


Renovation to Renewal

It seems this renovation of my heart and mind has been going on for quite some time now... and may it never stop until it's finished.

On the one hand, I feel as if I owe some sort of explanation for my lack of posting in several months. On the other hand, I don't really have to justify it at all. Still, I suppose it is worth noting that any inconsistency seen here could be related to the inconsistency within my own life. I had a sinking suspicion that my lack of writing as of late (not just here but in my own journals) has been due to some issue that needs to be taken care of within me.

Perhaps to some, this lack of writing for a few months (or sparsely writing for the last six months) is not really a big deal. But I have kept a journal since I was in kindergarten. So, not writing is pretty much a red flag in my book.

However, my lack of writing could be attributed to the fact that I have been swamped with school work this past year... in which I have written well over 75,000 words. To put that another way, if I took all the assignments I've written for my classes, I could make a 300 page book. An appreciable accomplishment, I think. Of course, the semester isn't over yet... so I might add a few dozen pages yet to that book.

Gracious, with that in mind, I don't really feel bad at all for not writing here. In fact, you still might not hear from me consistently... it all depends really. I could probably get rid of a few things that tend to take up my time. Trash my phone... But, of course, I need to be realistic. Or maybe I don't?

God is currently teaching me that it's not just about prioritizing Him. It's not a list with Jesus at the top as Number One. No, as a friend put it, He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is not just number one, He is the Only One. My entire heart and life devoted completely and wholly to Him... out of which the rest of my life flows.

Whatever that looks like...


It is Finished!

In the heat of early morning on a hill
They call The Skull
The roaring of the angry mob
Had settled to a lull

All eyes were cast upon the man
Whose hands and feet were bound
They saw Him cry in anguish
When they heard the hammer pound

They saw the bloody woven thorns with
Which His head was crowned
They watched the bloody cross of wood
Be dropped into the ground

The soldiers gambled for His clothes
They watched them win and lose
They saw the sign above His head
That said "King of the Jews"

They searched His face for anger
For vengeance in His stare
Instead of eyes that burned with hate
A look of love was there

He prayed for their forgiveness
And bowed His battered head
And no one knew the meaning
Of the final words He said

It is finished
And the sky grew black as the night
It is finished
And the people scattered in fright

The work had been done
Redemption had been won
The war was over without a fight
It is finished

The provision has been made
The foundation has been laid
He paid the ransom due
And tore the temple veil in two
And opened up the way
For me and you

It is finished!


---> [John 19-20] <---
"...These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name."

(lyrics by Petra, "It is Finished")


Renovation of the Heart and Mind

(and maybe a little on the blog as well, as you may have noticed)

Many of you know that if I haven't posted in awhile, it's usually because:
[a] I haven't anything (complete) to say worth writing or reading
[b] I've been procrastinating
[c] I'm learning something
[d] A little of all the above.
    In this case, I would circle "d". I usually write when there's something I want to say... And I haven't pieced all the puzzle together yet, but I'm starting to see the picture fill in. A friend encouraged me recently to blog about what He is doing... in me and the world. No easy task, but here I am.

    For now I think I'll have to stick with the former. I can't claim to know what He IS doing specifically, only what I know He does and plans to do. I do know that for the world He works to bring new life. That is His mission.

Jesus, the "Resurrection and Life" (John 11:25) said:
"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." - [John 10:9-11]

    I have been learning so much. And it seems I learn in trends. By trends, I mean that one topic is in focus for quite some time, then it shifts to another topic that is enriched by the first topic. But in the meantime, the second topic also sheds light on the first. They are part of a trend.

The recent trend has been love.
    Out of this has come ponderings and realizations concerning the importance and significance of love. God's love. You see why I haven't had anything to write? How can I even begin to scratch the surface on this topic? And what could be more important to correctly convey? What I'm beginning to realize more and more is how much it all depends on this. This is at the center. It's Him. His love is not just part of Him, He is His love. [1 John 4:16]

So what is this doing in me?
    My focus has been rooted to these verses:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” -[Matthew 22:36-40]

    When Jesus said this, it might be a little confusing to us who think of the commandments as the "big 10" found in Exodus 20. Neither one of these seems to be found in the Ten Commandments. However, to the Pharisees, this was incredibly significant. See, the Jews read the Torah, which is the first five books of the Bible. This is the Law that Jesus was referring to, and within it are 613 commandments. Yeah, that's a lot more than 10. So, out of these commandments, which did Jesus think was the greatest? It was really a trick question. (You can check out the reference to see that.) They were trying to trip Him up.
    They didn't expect Jesus to say what He did. He quoted to them something very familiar... something that is still the foundational creed of Judaism today. It is called the Shema. It comes out of Deuteronomy chapter 6:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

    As you can see, this was quite a big deal. And to this, Jesus added that the second greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself." - [Leviticus 19:18] He said that this commandment was like the first. In other words, it connects with what John said in 1 John 4:16.

"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."

    When we love others, we are keeping the first commandment, that we love God. And when we love God, we can do that by showing our love to others. This is central. Jesus says it sums up the Law and the Prophets! In other words He's saying that this is the underlying essence. This is the key. Love.

    So this spreads out to everything. Everything. He did it all for love. This demands a re-estimation of our understanding of what love really is. Because Jesus said there was no greater love than someone laying down their life for their friends. [John 15:13] Love is more than romance. It's greater than a feeling that fades. It's bigger than your fears and stronger than death. It is Him. It changes your life. It transforms. It renews. It gives life!

    How do I convey the gravity of this? How can I show you all that I am learning? How can I help you understand? This is so important. This is the meaning. The reason... for all of it. He did it all for love. And I have so much yet to learn myself. His glory and His love. The purpose. His sovereignty. Our choices. The plan...

    This journey Somewhere is taking me down a path that points to love. It's renovating my heart, rewiring my mind. It is challenging me. Daring me to live my life out of this love. To dare to love completely. To live life wholly. And to live life in love, I must live it in Him. I know it sounds kind of mystical, and I'm trying my best to explain it. He is life, how can try to live without this Life who is Love?

    Ani lomedet. I am learning. Always learning...
Learning to trust, lean, wait... Learning to love. To hope. To live.