Awaken to Light

awaken to light sara thomas

We started a new series over at Transforming Mission, Awaken to God’s Presence. We’re reading Scripture, reflecting on a focus word, and responding to a question.

From time to time throughout this series, I’ll offer reflections on the focus word. The focus word for today is light.


If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ve probably received an email with the signature, “be a city light.” Taken from Matthew 5:14-16, it is a reminder to reflect the light of Christ.

For as long as I can remember, light has been an image or metaphor that speaks to me. Even though the ministry that inspired that phrase is no longer my responsibility, the message remains: reflect the light of Christ today. The email signature may be more of a reminder to me than it is for anyone else. But, I can’t help but see reminders all around me that we need to awaken to light.

Arise and Shine

I can’t help but think the world needs the light that calls us to arise and shine. It may sound strange, but we can learn from the darkness that must have surrounded Israel and Judah when the Babylonian captivity ended and the feeble remnant returned to their land (Isaiah 60:1-6).

For that matter, think about any worn-torn country today. Return to the vacant and burned city where the buildings uninhabitable, basic utilities like water and electric are lacking, and the community is a remnant of those who were there before. Or go to the burned down neighborhoods in southern California, the flooded homes in Houston and Florida. That kind of darkness and desolation was likely the reality surrounding Isaiah.

arise shine awaken to light sara thomas

However, as Isaiah reminds us, look ahead…the glory and light can come. I know my daily life is the epitome of peace compared to the images of war, natural disaster, and desolation that surround us in the news. Really, it should take little effort to awaken to light.

But, I can’t help but feel like we are living in a dark time. I can’t help but feel like we’re searching for light. Searching for something that will help us arise and shine. Maybe it’s not something we need to search for. Maybe it is the One who first brought light into being.

Today, I’m looking more closely for God’s light and glory to guide the way.  I want the light to guide us through this dark, complicated time.

Shining Light

I didn’t watch the Golden Globes last night. But I did watch Oprah Winfrey’s Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech. (And you should too.) She single-handedly cast out the darkness of our time with an illuminating, intelligent, historical, compassionate, reflective, truth-filled speech.

Truth is a way to shine a light. Truth is a way that calls people to arise and shine. Want to cast out darkness and let the light shine? Speak truth. While she recalled the darkness of history of our country for African Americans and for women, a light emerged. A light of hope.

I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who have withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. – Oprah Winfrey

As she stood in the spotlight few of us will ever know, she reflected a light – a bright, hopeful, truth-filled light – to each one of us, ordinary people, searching for good news in a dark world. Oprah could have claimed the glory and spotlight, instead she reflected it back to people searching for the hope-filled future she named.


oprah awaken to light sara thomas


Maybe today is a day that you’ll notice God’s presence around you. Maybe today is a day that you’ll reflect the light of Christ so others may arise and shine.

Biblical Reflections

In the Scripture reading today, God’s presence appears as light and glory, preceding and making possible Israel’s capacity to arise and shine (Isaiah 60:1-6). There must be light to shine. The first created thing is light (Genesis 1:3-4). The light of God destroys any instance of darkness (Revelation 22:5). In between, Scripture is filled with images of light – both physically and symbolically. Here are a few reminders of the complexity of light in Scripture.

Physical light in Scripture

  • It comes from God – Gen 1:3-4, 2 Cor 4:6
  • Light is opposed to darkness – simple thinking divided the world into light and darkness, creating conflict between the two. Light is shrouded in mystery and people shudder in terror of its absence. See Gen 1:4, Job 38:19, Job 12:25.
  • Worship and encounters with God – physical lamps (Ex 25:37), the glory of the Lord or Shekinah (2 Chron 5:13-14), appearance of angels to the shepherds (Lk 2:9) and star lighting the way to Magi (Matt 2:9-10)

Symbolic light in Scripture

  • Light as a symbol of goodness and blessing – often this goodness emerges from the contrasting darkness. See Eph 5:8-9; Phil 2:15.
  • Light as a symbol of truth – images of light connect with truth and understanding as opposed to error and ignorancePsalm 119:105, 130
  • God as Light – see 1 Jn 1:5
  • The community of light – new life emerges from light – see Ps 27:1, Eph 5:13-14.
  • Light in the coming age – a new age – see Rev 21:23, 22:5.

“In a number of languages there is no noun for ‘light,’ but only verbs are employed, since the fact of light is spoken of as something which happens and is hence regarded as an event.”¹


  1. https://ref.ly/o/louwnida/985418?length=183