Lights Out

by Joanie Butman

There’s been some contention in our family over the years regarding the timing of cutting the power to my husband’s Christmas light extravaganza. Last year Bob announced he was going to drive around conducting his own informal survey to see how many houses were still lit. As my mom used to say when I tried the “everyone else is doing it” argument to bolster my case for an unpopular request, “If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you do that too?” Since when did the neighbor on the corner become the harbinger of Christmas light etiquette? I asked my husband in earnest, “When have you ever known me to been concerned about what everyone else is doing?”

For a society that has pushed Christmas to start earlier and earlier each year, ‘everyone’ is awfully eager to wrap it up quickly once there is no longer a monetary profit to be had. For me the true profit of Christmas occurs following Christ’s birth – not the day after Halloween. We are meant to keep the light of Christmas shining brightly long after any remnants of the season have been eaten, trashed or boxed away. The holiday weight we gain lingers well into January, why can’t the lights? Not that I want to share the limelight with Jesus, but I do have a birthday towards the end of January. Why not keep the lights on until then? Truth be told, we don’t need a light extravaganza to be beacons for Christ. As I read this week, “You don’t have to advertise a fire. Get on fire for God and the world will come to watch you burn.” Did you know that even the small flame of a candle can be seen from over a mile away?


When I arrived home on Thursday, I discovered Bob’s light display in complete disarray. With no one to tend to them, fuses had blown leaving some trees half lit and others completely dark. Sounds eerily familiar to my spiritual life when I neglect it. A healthy spiritual life takes constant attention in order to keep Christ’s light shining brightly through us. Life has a way of overloading our circuits when we don’t choose to plug into His divine power.

Sadly, our house went dark last night as I didn’t have the expertise or desire to fix the faulty fuses. My husband decided to stay in Florida an extra few days and didn’t want his reputation tainted by a sub-par light display, so he told me to pull the switch - early even for him. Made me wonder how many times my own reputation has been damaged by a sub-par spiritual light display. I've blown more than my share of fuses over the years resulting in spiritual blackouts. With that in mind, I chose to fix the lights on a small tree I installed outside my ‘Son’room where I have my morning cawfee talks with God. Now I can keep it lit all year long as a visual reminder of Christ’s ongoing presence, adding light to my darkest days.