Stay in the Light

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“Oooh, a flashlight! Do we get to play with that?”

I grinned and nodded at the curious fourth grader in my Sunday school class.

The black stick grabbed the kids’ attention like a candy bar as I pulled it from my bag. It was my hubby’s ultra-strength, pricey work flashlight, used to inspect the innards of bridges. 

Today it would be used in an illustration for the morning’s lesson.  

“Let’s start the lesson first, then we’ll play with the flashlight.”

Six eager faces lined the Sunday school table, ranging in age from seven to ten. My 9am class was combined 2nd-5th, and this was a lively, attentive group.

Three girls and three boys. My own little Brady Bunch.

Our lesson? 1 John 1:5-10. Verses I’d engraved on my heart as a child.

We read over the scripture.

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:5-7).

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The apostle John knew joy because he walked in the light with Jesus (1:4). He wanted that same fellowship and joy for other believers. 

He also knew that the world can not give the joy that God gives.

John’s words remind us that when we’re saved by faith, our sanctification comes from walking in the light–with Jesus, apart from the world, confessing our sin–in order to have right fellowship with God.

Since our classroom had a window and we needed a dark space for the flashlight activity, we headed down the hall to a different room. The 4th and 5th grade class was currently unoccupied, and had no windows except a window on the door.

We filed inside and I shut the door. The kids jumped around like hungry bunnies in a garden. Standing in front of the door window blocked most of the hallway light. 

“This game is called Stay in the Light.” I explained the simple rules to the giddy class. I’d turn the lights off, dropping the room in near-darkness, and they had to stay within the circle of the flashlight’s beam as I moved it around the room.

My hubby’s flashlight had three levels–low, medium, and super bright. We took turns using each level of light during the game. Even I preferred the super bright setting, which put out nearly the same brightness as the overhead lights.

After three rounds of squealing, scurrying, and chair-hopping, I clicked off the flashlight and flipped on the overhead lights.

I turned to Ethan, the oldest in the class. “How were you able to stay in the light?”

“Well, I had to keep my eyes on the light beam at all times.” He answered in his thoughtful southern drawl.

“Exactly. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus. He’s our light beam.”

“Where do we find Jesus?”

“In the Bible.”

I reminded them that less light–less Jesus and less of God’s word–meant more darkness. Even the quietest student nodded excitedly, grinning.  

We headed back to our classroom for snack and prayer. The kids had expelled wiggly energy and the illustration had taken hold. Thank You, Lord.

A couple of days before, I’d grumbled to God about teaching. 

“I’ve done it a while. Can I stop? Just for a while?”

Don’t misunderstand. I truly love teaching these kids. I’ve learned so much about God’s word and experienced beautiful moments where understanding dawns in young eyes and spiritual truths sink deep.

But January was a busy, difficult month for both sides of our family. The burden of illness, surgery, school activities, sick children, and other things felt almost too heavy to bear. I prayed, asking God if it’s just me being a whiner or if He would have me step out of the role of Sunday school teacher I’ve had for a few years.

God’s answer? The  meaningful lesson with the flashlight. One I needed and won’t soon forget. 

Stay in the light, friends. Keep your eyes on Jesus, no matter what.

“Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24)

 

 

Book Review ~ Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

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“In a town mired in darkness, she may shine the light they need.”

Jody Hedlund’s third book in her historical lighthouse series, Beacons of Hope, is the perfect winter read. The story is set partly during the brutal winter of 1871-2 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the author weaves a tale of courage, adversity, and love amidst difficult circumstances.

Undaunted Hope follows Tessa Taylor, sister of Caroline Taylor from Hearts Made Whole (#2 in the series). Tessa is a dynamic young woman whose past choices make future paths limited. She’s determined to leave her mistakes behind and begin anew in the small mining town of Eagle Harbor, Michigan.

Tessa arrives in remote Eagle Harbor in early fall, set to take the position of school teacher for the miners’ children. But one bump in the road after another leads her to rely on local lighthouse keeper brothers, Michael and Alex Bjorklund, and reach out to the close-knit mining community.

Despite her determination to steer clear of lighthouses, she ends up caring for the widowed family at Eagle Harbor’s lighthouse.

In Undaunted Hope, Jody crafts humorous dialogue and warm, vibrant chemistry between the main characters. Some of the banter between Tessa and Alex made me laugh out loud.

Tough but tender-hearted Tessa has learned from her past, and she’s just the strong-willed person Eagle Harbor needs to lead them out of a dark place.

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I appreciate how Jody’s stories show realistic difficulties faced during the time frame in which her novels are set. The lack of supplies during stark winter months in northern Michigan was eye-opening. Her stories are based on real places, often with notorious figures from the past.

I wanted to squash the villain between my fingers as I read about his dark hold on the citizens of Eagle Harbor.

The never-ending winter and unforgiving landscape of northern Michigan became another character in Undaunted Hope; combined with a detestable villain and a romantic triangle that keeps readers guessing, this story about overcoming evil and trusting God no matter what, kept me turning pages and gnawing my nails.

The Beacons of Hope series provides a fascinating look at the sometimes-difficult lives of lighthouse keepers and their families, as well as the treacherous landscape on which they’re built.

Each book is also filled with sigh-worthy moments between hero and heroine.

Undaunted Hope packs an emotional punch with themes of forgiveness, facing our fears, and relying on God’s strength to leave the past behind.

I highly recommend this series, and look forward to Jody’s next book.

Here are links to find Jody online.

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