Father of Lights

In 2 weeks, my family will board an airplane with all our possessions and fly across the ocean to a foreign land that will be like nowhere we have ever lived.  There will be new smells, new sounds, new language, new friends, new schools, new foods, and a new culture.  At times, the thought of this next move just seems overwhelming.

We’ve been living a life of what seems like constant transition since last February with a series of trips to various countries and states, and living for a couple months at a time in three different locations since April.  While we have had great adventures and have made many sweet memories as a family, transition has not always been nice to us.

Each transition means more goodbyes must be said.  Change brings more tears and broken hearts that survive by attaching to the hope of spending eternity together someday. For believers, goodbye is not a permanent separation, but only a season of laying down our own desires and accepting the challenge of long-distance love.  Each transition means having children who have trouble sleeping for a period of time and whose grief manifests itself in peculiar ways. Transition stretches us as parents as we shepherd and disciple the young hearts of these beloved ones that He has entrusted to our care, all the while grieving the place we just left at the same time.  Transition means choosing to not take out stress on my husband, but instead actively fighting to rely on the Spirit to love each other with a God glorifying love. Transition is the excitement of the unknown that the Lord is taking us to.  It has been in this season of transitional living that I have seen miraculous wonders of God, and for that I praise His name. Transition means doors closing and new ones opening – transition is joyful sorrow.

With each transition we have gone through, I have found the tendency arise to shut my heart off from building deep relationships with new people. The pain is great and the upcoming moving date is distracting.  Superficial relationships don’t leave the gaping wounds that intimate ones leave on moving day.  The Father of Lights has changed my perspective to one from self-preservation, to one of surrender.  Surrender to Jesus; surrender to the length of time He wants our family at each location; surrender to the hearts of the brothers and sisters in this beautiful family of Christ who encourage me and who our Father gives me as a good gift….even if our fellowship will be for only a brief time.  Jesus tells us in John 13:35, that they will know we are His disciples by our love, and I want to love radically and without boundaries like He wants us to.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” ~James 1:17

Life is full of change.  People move and jobs are lost.  Family dies and children eventually grow up.  Bodies age and sickness attacks.  The one thing that will never change – the One that is always constant and disappointment is not found in His character – is the Father.  2 weeks.  I can hardly wrap my mind around moving so soon, but the Lord has faithfully been guiding me to discover treasures found in His perfect Word that show me that even though my life is about to change dramatically, He will not and cannot change.

“The NIV translation, “who does not change like shifting shadows,” grapples with a notoriously difficult text. The term “change” picks up the astral realm of the phrase “Father of lights.” God, as Creator of the “heavenly lights,” is incomparably greater than they are (cf. Ps 135:6; Jer 4:23). The God who orders the stars and their changes to indicate “seasons and days and years” (Gen 1:14) and who controls all the changes in his creation does not himself change. His governance over all things is impeccable and benevolent, bringing them to the end he has willed for them.
[Richardson, K. A. (1997). James. The New American Commentary (Vol. 36, p. 86). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.]

“First, as the Father of the heavenly lights God is the Creator of the stars and other heavenly bodies. Second, God does not change. This term from astronomy frequently refers to the change in light intensity from sun and moon. The sun gives full light at midday, dim light at dusk, and no light at all in the night. In stark contrast to the sun, God’s character does not change. The light of his truth and holiness remains constant.
Third, God does not undergo any “shadow of turning.” This term also comes from astronomy, describing moving heavenly bodies that produce constantly changing shadows on the earth. God’s purposes do not have such a variation or shifting. The movements of the sun, moon, and clouds regularly cause changes in light and shadows throughout the day. God’s character is always constant, true, unchanging, reliable, good, and faithful. What a God we have!”
[Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James. Holman New Testament Commentary (Vol. 10, pp. 262–263). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.]

God, the creator and maintainer, does not change.  No matter how drastically or how often circumstances shift, His promises do not.  No matter how fiercely our emotions whip our hearts around in tornado-like violence, His Truth remains reliable, and His character remains steady…and therefore as His child, I am steady. This Father of Lights that I worship and have given my life to has filled me with His Truth, which illuminates His plan and casts radiant beams of light on the next step of the path that He has us walking on.

And this path that we are walking on…this path is not one that is meant to be walked alone.  The Father of Lights has cast His Light into my heart and let me see the gift of brotherly and sisterly love within the Body – even if it is brief.  I cannot tell you how often He has placed a sister in Christ in my path to give me just the right encouragement at just the right time while living here.  I would have missed out on so much had I closed my heart to others out of fear of grief.  Grief is painful, but grief should not frighting. Grief tenderizes our hearts to receive His grace and cast a vision of hope in Christ that sustains those who are hurting deeply.

I am so thankful for the fellow believers I have been with here and I am forever grateful for the brothers and sisters from back home who continually pray for us and send us encouragement.  We are family and in this together! I pray so often that the Father will bless you greatly for the love, support, and kindness you continue to show us!

“My earnest prayer is that once you feel like you know a handful of missionaries personally, your motivation to remember them, pray for them and support them in any of many ways will explode into a full-fledged partnership.  You see, believers in Christ are supposed to be completely connected, not in spite of our varied locations and vocations, but because of them.  We are a family, but fragmented; we’re a dysfunctional one.  The divine idea for full-throttle function was that God’s people would operate as one entity – or one body – in each generation.  We’re meant to be like multicolored Christmas lights attached to one electrical cord called the Holy Spirit and strung strategically all over the earth.  Yep, millions of lights on one cord, with the guts to shine more brightly because we know the others are there.” ~Beth Moore, Voices of the Faithful

No matter where you are on our string of connected lights, I pray that you will have the guts to shine brightly! He has knit our hearts together for a purpose, and through Him, we are able to love with a love that endures all – even living in different time zones!  May we love deeply, shine brightly, and trust unwaveringly as we abide in Christ and shine in the dark as one family, making the most of our numbered and precious days.

“Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].” ~1 Corinthians 13:7, AMP