October 28, 2011

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Let the love of Christ shine brightly in you

Sean GallagherThe spiritual lessons that come my way while driving my sons, Michael and Raphael, to school in the morning keep coming.

Last month, I wrote about how the three of us learned about our need to respect other people, even those who might be mean or seem strange to us, as we looked at and commented on the diverse buildings that we drove past on our way to their school.

A few days later, as we drove west along East Washington Street, we saw a beautiful sight. The sun was just coming up and its light was reflecting brightly off the high-rise buildings in downtown Indianapolis. Michael and Raphael were amazed by the colorful light display before them.

I thought about that for a bit, and then talked with them about how it is good for us to find joy and happiness in the little things in life—like sunlight reflecting off buildings. We don’t need the latest expensive gadget or the sleekest car or the most luxurious house to be truly happy.

If we set our hearts on these things alone, the simple things of life that God in his goodness gives to us freely and that can truly make us happy might quickly pass us by without us ever knowing that they were there.

The sun shining on those buildings is a good example of that. Since we drive to school at the same time and along the same street each day, there might be only a few days a year where we would be able to see those skyscrapers gleam as they did on that morning.

On other days, the sun will rise either enough before or after our daily commute so that Indianapolis’ skyline looks different.

Not only should we keep our eyes open for the small gifts that God gives us each day because they’re beautiful, we also should look for them because they might not come our way again.

After I talked about that with my sons, my 6-year-old son, Raphael, said in reply, “Nothing lasts forever—except God.”

How true that is.

For as beautiful as the skyline was that morning because of the light that God created at the beginning of time, it will not last forever. Indeed, by the time we got close to downtown, the buildings had much less light reflecting off them than just a few minutes earlier.

Perhaps it was because the sun had risen enough in the sky that its rays weren’t hitting the sides of the buildings as directly. Or perhaps the perspective from which we were looking at the buildings had changed enough that we could no longer see them gleaming in the early morning sun.

In any case, the gift that we had been given a little earlier had passed away—like so many gifts that we receive in our lives. But one gift from God that will never disappear is his love for us.

In this life, we don’t experience it in its fullness. In heaven, however, we’ll be enveloped for all eternity in a love whose greatness is infinitely beyond our imagining.

Because this world is broken, Christ calls us to continually renew it with the grace of his love that he has poured into our hearts. And he said his disciples are the “light of the world,” and are like a “city set on a hill [that] cannot be hidden” (Mt 5:14).

When we believers build relationships with each other that are based on and show forth Christ’s love for all of us, we become that city set on a hill. And those around us will see that love reflecting off us in the simple moments of daily life—like the beautiful light that Michael, Raphael and I saw as we took a little trip along East Washington Street. †

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