“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
A Brief Encounter
One of the first things I do each day is to check the weather. I suppose it’s the gardener in me. The week before Christmas, I noticed an alarming trend in temperatures forecasted for the holiday weekend. Even though I know our single-digit lows would be welcome in other parts of the country where temperatures plunged well below zero, they can cause problems for pipes, plants, and pets here in Georgia.
As many of you know, I count the birds that frequent my feeders as my outside pets. Thus, wanting to make sure I had plenty of food on hand and knowing I wouldn’t have time to make it to Home Depot, I opted to pick up a bag of mixed seeds when I got my groceries.
While I was perusing the choices, another woman joined me in front of the birdseed shelves. Detecting a kindred spirit, I commented, “I hope the birds will be ok when the deep freeze gets here.”
She replied, “Me too! They have downy feathers to keep warm, right?”
Trying to reassure her, I said, “They fluff up too to provide extra insulation.” (My 11-year-old grandson Joshua, a treasury of animal facts, and I had a conversation about that a few days before my trek to the grocery store, so I felt confident in my assertion.)
Still troubled, she said, “But what about their little feet and legs?”
That one stumped me, though if Joshua had been there, I have no doubt he would have had an explanation for why birds’ feet don’t freeze. Instead, in an attempt to ease our concerns, I stated something I knew to be true. “The Bible says God watches over the birds, so we’ll trust Him to do that.”
She smiled. “You’re right. It does.”
I added, “And we’ll do our part to make sure they have food.”
Another smile, “Yes, we will.”
We each selected a bag of seeds, wished each other Merry Christmas, and went our separate ways.
The forecast proved to be correct. Temperatures plummeted, lows were below 10 degrees, and three days passed with highs in the teens and 20s. When we finally made it above freezing, it felt like a heat wave!
As is my custom, I refilled the feeders each morning and returned them to their hooks on my deck. The first frigid morning, I peered expectantly out the kitchen window, awaiting the arrival of my bird friends.
I didn’t have to wait long. Soon a steady stream of customers was coming and going, consuming seeds even more rapidly than usual. The birds, including their tiny feet and legs, made it through the wintry blast. But I knew they would because I’ve seen God protect them through other unfavorable conditions. Their calm during those times, happily feeding, unphased by the adverse circumstances, reminds me that the One who watches over the birds and flowers also watches over me (Matthew 6:26-33). 
Shining the Light
Christmas is about God meeting our greatest need, our need for a Savior. The Apostle Paul, writing to the believers in Rome, assured them that if God didn’t withhold His only Son, He surely wouldn’t withhold any lesser thing (Romans 8:32).
As children of the King, we know our Father will meet all our needs and will never forsake us. Even so, there are times we need someone to remind us. As I told my fellow bird lover, we can do our part to care for those God places in our circle. Sometimes it looks like making sure the bird feeders are full. At others, it means sharing a word of truth in a brief encounter with a stranger to help turn their eyes toward Jesus. Then again, it involves consistently being life-givers to close family and friends, those we know best.
Regardless of the situation, we’re God’s ambassadors, called to be light in a world filled with darkness because we belong to the Light that darkness cannot overcome (John 1:4-5).
Each week, our pastor encourages us to embrace, embody, and extend the love and grace we’ve received in Christ. I pray you’ll consider that to be part of your mission, too, as we begin a new year. May we always endeavor to shine for God’s glory.
Dear Lord, how blessed we are to be called Your children, and what a privilege You’ve bestowed upon us to be Your representatives. Please help us to care for Your creation and our fellow image-bearers with humble, grateful hearts, acknowledging all You’ve done for us.
 Please see “Through the Storm,” Archives, September 2017.
 If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of being a life-giver, please see the “Give Life” tab and “Bucket-fillers” in Archives, November 2018.