Growing up, Christmas lights were always one of my favorite parts of the season. My dad and I would drive around, blasting our favorite Christmas songs, and grade all the houses. We would always have a top three—the best, most beautiful festive lights we found that year.
They are still one of my absolute favorite things. Though I have less time at home for the holidays now, I still go searching for lights in whatever city I am in. This year alone, I’ve been in several cars with my favorite people, Christmas music playing in the background, with lights on our minds. Every year it makes for some of my favorite memories. There is nothing like being in a car with the people you love, talking, laughing, and gazing upon the awe and wonder of the lights.
Though we always graded them growing up, and there are some houses who clearly deserve a first place prize, I have come to genuinely love all the lights. From the houses who keep things simple, to those that go all out in a way that makes you wonder if the kids were in charge of the decorating, I think there is just something so incredibly beautiful about the way they light up the darkness. This time of the year, though usually deemed merry and bright, sometimes can feel like the opposite. It can be a hard season in more ways than one. I think it is so important to remember that.
That’s why I’m thankful for the lights. Because behind every house is a person who look the time to spread a little holiday cheer. Behind every home are hands who took the time to decorate, maybe so those passing by could drive a little slower and have reason to sing a little bit louder with the people they love.
Jesus was that—a light in the darkness for this world to gaze upon in awe and wonder. He was the one sent to draw us all, especially those in hard seasons, close and give them something to hope for, to hold onto. Not just now in this December, but always. Behind His arrival to us in a manager, is a God who had incredible plans for our saving and love for our partaking.
I cannot help but think of Him whenever I look at lights—because He came to be THE light to this world, always shining bright in the midst of our trials and hurts and aches. He came to be with us—God with us. That is something we can always rejoice in, no matter our circumstances, no matter the state of our hearts.
So if Jesus had house, I know His lights would be on year round—He would leave them on for us. Because everyday, in every season, He extends to us an invitation to come and gaze upon the light of His presence—and His lights, the light of the world that stepped down from His heavenly throne into our individual darkness, wins the first place prize every single time.
I hope you go see the lights this Christmas, even if this is a hard season. I hope you will go and see the greater story that each individual bulb tells—the one about the Light. the Light who is shines in the darkness; the One the darkness cannot overcome. His story took on flesh to walk with you in yours. Though He has come and gone, and as we await His return—He has left the lights on for us.
May you always look to the Light, long after this season passes.
words by Jacqueline Winstead and photo by Leah Van Otterloo