To Shine Brighter and Brighter

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” – Proverbs 4:18,19

Good evening Father,

In what a blessed state I find myself. Every tree in front of me that is touched by the golden grasp of the setting sun reminds me of Your illuminating Word reaching the otherwise unseen recesses of my heart. You do not only expose me, but You make me beautiful. Anything less than gratitude is absurd for me as I recline at 7:30pm in April to feel a just-cool-enough breeze touch me, and tickle the leaves of the tree closest to my balcony. This is mercy. I don’t deserve to behold it. This is grace. To my left are the hanging moss, dripping from a tree in true Florida fashion. It is set before a very light pink and purple backdrop, resembling watercolor. Closer to me is a palm tree by his lonesome except for another tree, I don’t know what it is called, but it has light green leaves that turn red only at the very top of the tree. More directly before me is a tree so beautiful I find it hard to explain. It is round, full, and grounded. It reminds me of a full head of curly hair, happily being blown in the soft wind. I sometimes stare at it for minutes. Beyond it are a host of trees that go beyond eyesight. Right in the middle of busy streets and housing, a huge cluster of trees! You have a beautiful mind. Every phenomena I have the privilege to experience in my small corner of the world is perfectly orchestrated by Your wise decree. Not one inch of it is outside of Your control. And all of it works to give You glory.

Yet I know I am not in Eden. My nose is stuffy and my head congested. My temptation is to confuse rest in You with slothful irresponsibility. My fall is that I don’t explode with thanks always, and I’m concerned that even now I withhold parts of me that should be surrendered in complete devotion to You. And even right now I crave to take this pencil and write words, works that will immortalize my name rather than glorify Yours. But isn’t that the nature of the old me? To fall in love with art rather than the Master Artist? To make my writing a mirror rather than a telescope? To exalt creation, the medium, rather than the Creator who is forever praised?

Oh, God, even in this moment of paradise I find I am closely accompanied by my slithery opponent, and I am slightly inclined to follow him. Let it not be. I know my heart was once a stone, unwilling and unable to beat and bleed no matter what storm You hurled to drive me to my knees in desperation; no matter what perfect weather you set to drive me to my knees in thanks. No, I was a stone, impenetrable, stubborn, and cold. But You make even the rocks cry out praises. And You made this stone a real, fleshy heart, sensitive to Your arrows, Your Word, ready for incisions. But I see, I feel, I fear, I know some rocky areas still reside in me. I know I’m blameless in Your sight for Your Son bled for me. But Your redemptive work is not complete in every sense yet. I still await my new body. And I long to love You with un-sinning heart. I long to behold Your glory and have no inclination to take some of my own.

Make me more like that tree. Firmly rooted in Your love, knowing and believing You have given Your all for me. Full and mature in godly thinking, affections, and obedience. Soft and impressionable at the blast of Your wind, moving beautifully in acquiescence to the invisible, powerful leading of Your Spirit. Praising, swaying, and clapping my leaves, these hands, these words, at the very opportunity to experience Your touch. Green with life, bright with joy because I daily soak in the sun, the brightness of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ, in the daily sun-bathing in Your gospel. Green and bright because I am well-watered by Your Word, which I know is vital even when You soak me with it in dreadful storms. Yes, make me like this tree I see, not worth one breath of man’s praise, just reflective of Your grace, Your power, Your glory.

And now the sun is hidden, and another night surrounds me. The trees in the distance are all dark green. I cannot make out their detailed shapes quite as well as I could when I began this prayer. Life is a handbreadth, quick as a day. What a praise is due to You who makes the righteous never see the darkness set in. For when we are born again we are as the rising sun, magnificent, breath-taking, yet not fully exuding the brightness and heat of a midday sun. Our sanctification is as the course of the sun: miraculously birthed in glorious splendor at regeneration, but then taken on a path that makes us warmer with love, higher in our thinking, closer to heaven’s throne, and brighter with holiness, with God’s glory, even to the point of reaching midday brightness, our glorification, when we shine with noontime brightness, the time when people cannot bear to stare with naked eye at the sun’s rays. We will be taken then, when He completes His work in us, and our course is complete. We will not be as the wicked, as we once were, stumbling in the darkness of our sin. No, we will not set at the end of our day, to be plunged into darkness, our eternal doom. We will soon be taken to that place where the Lamb is the sun, and we will appear with Him in glory.

Thank You that You will ensure my perseverance, making me shine bright as a reflection of You.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.