I am drawn like a magnet to the sun when it rises in the East and sets in the West. I crave and admire it so much that my family will capture spectacular photos and send them to me periodically. I often pause and stand at my kitchen window to admire the dancing hues of yellow, orange, red, and pink on the horizon in the early morning. I saw one of my most memorable while standing at the top of the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. The beauty was indescribable.
All these magnificent moments cause me to pause and praise God for the warmth his light brings to my life. These opportunities remind me that Jesus said “I AM the Light” who is all powerful and all-knowing, the one who created the sun, our visible reminder of his light which he calls us to follow. The glorious times of watching the sun rise and fall provide me with indescribable peace in the sometimes-treacherous and dark sea of parenting.
“Jesus spoke to them, saying “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12).
To give this truth some context: Jesus was teaching to a group of people who had gathered at the Mount of Olives when the Pharisees started questioning him about a woman caught in adultery. They were trying to trap him regarding her sin. Ultimately, they all chose not to cast stones at this woman because Jesus said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone” (John 8:4-10). The Pharisees quickly left the scene and Jesus forgave her sin.
Jesus knew the Pharisees wouldn’t understand his message. The darkness of legalism and human standards clouded their vision. The Pharisees were too concerned about the adulterous woman who broke the rules. Jesus, however, came to atone for those who broke the rules. The adulterous woman saw the “I AM the Light” and was not condemned; her sins were forgiven. When she placed her faith in Jesus, her multitude of sins were washed clean and darkness would never encompass her again. Sadly, the Pharisees were too caught up in their litany of rules and missed the purpose of Jesus coming to save the rule breakers.
As parents, how do we protect our children from the darkness of sin? How do we point them toward the light, the saving grace of Jesus?
Like the adulterous woman who was the rule breaker, we must first call on Jesus to be our own personal Savior. We must believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead so we will be saved, and we must ask for the forgiveness of our sins. Without this profession of faith, we cannot lead our children in God’s light and out of darkness. Without Jesus, we will be nothing better than the Pharisees trying to make our children adhere to rules.
We then must follow Jesus, “I Am the Light,” by having a relationship with him so we radiate his light to our children just like Moses did to the Israelites after spending time with God at the top of the mountain (Exodus 34:29-32). It is in those moments – reading God’s word, meditating, praying, and worshiping – we can share his radiance with our children. Without investment in our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, it will be impossible for us to train our children up in God’s will and path for their lives.
While sin has always been in this world, it feels as if we have easier access to it than ever before. Darkness is always attempting to snuff out God’s light. It continually lurks at our door; Satan is persistently knocking, hoping for a welcome sign. If we don’t follow his light and take guidance from his word, being a parent will be daunting even in its best moments.
Think of a sunflower, one that is nourished by the sun from a tiny seed to a beautiful bright yellow flower. The sunflower reaches daily for the warmth of the radiant rays by continually pointing its round fluttering yellow petals toward the sun’s light. Those rays of sunshine fill the flower with the nourishment it needs to blossom and grow.
We are no different as parents. We need to point ourselves toward Jesus so he can sustain and guide us in our parenting. When we don’t spend time with our Father, we become clanging gongs like the Pharisees and our words fall on deaf ears. Without Jesus, we are only rule makers instead of leading our rule breakers toward his saving light in a dark world.
Without being in a relationship with “I Am the Light,” guiding our children will be difficult at best. It is like the flight attendant’s instruction about utilizing the oxygen mask should the plane lose cabin pressure – “Please place the oxygen mask first on yourself before assisting others.” Taking care of our relationship with Jesus is our number one priority. It is in this exchange of reaching for God’s word and being in prayer that he shows us the correct path. Our example in following his light will be the best guidance in assuring our children will also come to know our Savior.
It is in our obedience of following Jesus that we can share the gospel with our children, thus allowing Jesus to grow our children from tiny seeds to beautiful sunflowers who will also reach for Jesus in a dark world.
May the rise and fall of the sun be a constant reminder for you to follow Jesus in your parenting. His light will illuminate even the darkest paths.