Recently, I heard someone use the phrase “take that basket off your head and let your light shine.” I could not help but think of the song “hide it under a bushel, no…I’m going to let it shine!” I’ve sung that song countless times in my life and I’ve never considered that the bushel basket might be on my head, meaning, if I’m honest, I let the song shape what I perceived as the actual light: holding up my index finger to symbolize the light! Yes, I know better, but visuals play a big part in how we see things evident in our life.
That’s not a very big light, and the truth is I am the light…all of me, the radiance that shines from me, not holding up my finger pretending it’s a candle. So, hearing how we should take the basket off our heads and let our light shine shook me and spoke to my soul.
It is so easy for us to let our light get dimmed, snuffed out, and covered up. A few rough encounters with humanity will do it. Allowing others to define who we are, criticize us, judge us, hurt us, will certainly dim our light. Experiences in life that bring brokenness can cover the light quickly: shattered marriages, estranged relationships, bad mistakes, damaging behaviors. These experiences can make us not only cover our head but hide under that basket.
Matthew 5, beginning in verse 14 says “you are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket.” The message translation of this scripture puts it this way, “you’re here to be the LIGHT, bringing out the God-colors of the world. God is not a secret to be kept…” It is so easy to place God’s story within the objects by which Jesus taught. It is so easy to understand what we are supposed to be…but feel we can’t because life happens.
The scripture goes on to say “I’ve put you on a hilltop on a light stand…so SHINE! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Our LIGHT is our life…as crazy and chaotic as it may be. And the darkness of the world needs our LIGHT to give HOPE when the light grows dim. Our light is not a single flicker…but a bonfire of shared light when we are generous with our lives.