When I was young I had this incredible fascination with tree climbing. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a town that was considered a “Tree City USA” so climbing trees were a dime a dozen. I spent a lot of time swinging my legs from the branches and landing shakily on the ground, descending via an awkward somersault.
That was the closest thing I ever got to gymnastics.
In my own favorite tree I would climb as high as I could possibly go – which, consequently, was just above the spot Mom would tell me was “too high” – and then I’d sing my heart out.
I’d sing as though no one else lived in my neighborhood but me.
And in all of my infinite, childlike wisdom I had no idea people down below could hear me.
It wasn’t until years later…just weeks before walking the length of the graduation stage with my cap and gown, that the widow who lived next door made it known to me she had always enjoyed my singing. She said it made me shine.
I was flattered and mortified all at the same time. I had given her enjoyment without knowing. Yet there’s no doubt about it, had I been aware of this while I was still young it would have shut down Treetop Idol in a heartbeat.
All because shining meant being noticed.
I can reflect on it now and see how selfish that manner of thinking had been. I wasn’t a shy kid growing up, but I didn’t care to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want someone picking apart my faults and virtues like the loves-me, loves-me-not petals of a white daisy.
Perhaps I was afraid to be noticed. Afraid to allow others to scratch the surface and see the inner workings beneath a perky, smiling face. Eventually, I even grew out my enormously thick hair so I could hide behind the craziness of the curls.
The thought of being someone’s light was intimidating. Exposing myself might put me in a position that would call me out to center stage. A place where the audience waits with baited breath wondering if I’ll make a mistake. Wondering if I can hold my own in the spotlight.
Quite frankly, hiding is nothing short of exhausting and it took me a long time to realize that this way of thinking required a lot more time and energy. It was time to be who God designed me to be.
A small voice inside told me to hold my head a little higher. To pin the hair off my face so that others could see me. To take bolder, more confident steps.
But it wasn’t until I came to know the identity of Christ that I truly understood the importance of what it meant to shine.
This place we live…it’s dark. We have only to turn on the news to witness the hurt, the violence, the lack of propriety… It is no coincidence that God spoke light into the world, sent light into the world and expects us to shine that same light that lives within us.
If we are in the business of concealing ourselves we’ll find it impossible to make disciples. Impossible to unveil a face to the world that is not our own.
The enemy makes it so easy to retreat. To run back into the shadows where we feel less conspicuous…less studied by those around us. Safe from ridicule or criticism. We’re tempted not to shine.
But that’s not where we’re meant to live. And He provides the Way out of that temptation. A Way that graciously takes our hand and accompanies us out of the darkness when we stumble into it again. And as I read His word and meditate on this scripture that reminds me that a city on a hill cannot be hidden I am filled again with the Spirit that keeps that flame burning.
I am simply enamored by God’s plan. As He has taken so much time over the last few years of my life to teach me these things He chooses to reinforce it with something more tangible…
Introducing the Everlasting Light Collection
You can imagine my surprise when I strolled past the (in)courage table at a conference just a few months ago and saw this selection of jewelry and home decor for the first time. Each piece, beautifully designed to remind us that lights are meant to shine…like stars in the sky.
While all of the products are lovely I have to admit that I’m a fan of the stacked ring collection. The gold and silver dusted pewter are just stunning together. But, more importantly, I love them for the reminder written upon the finish: “you will shine like stars.”
As my hand rests upon my desk those words stare up at me with such deliberate intent and I catch the three that stand out the most.
you. will. shine.
Not should shine.
Not might shine.
I thank Him again that darkness is a thing of the past.
And if that’s not something to sing about from the treetops, I don’t know what is…
This post will also appear as a link-up for the following sites today:
(in)courage for Everlasting Light
Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory
Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart
This is a beautiful story and example.
Thank you so much, Emily!
Jennifer- I love the story about you singing from the tree and I hope you know that you are still shining here… through your encouraging messages that reflect his glory. You are brightening a dark world… so keep pinning your hair back and sing out! Loved this!!
Thank you for your constant encouragement, Karen. You’re a true gem!
Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for linking up at my place today. My word this year has been LIGHT. So I’m loving this collection from DaySpring. In fact, I recently ordered the book ends. Love them. They’re a beautiful reminder of what God has taught me about living in the light this year. Keep shining, Jennifer! God’s doing a mighty work.
OH – I just saw the book ends last night. I’m loving those, too. Thank you for visiting and for taking over Three Word Wednesday. So glad it has a new home. 🙂
I am so going to check out this beautiful collection! I’ve seen it several places…the drool on my chin is growing! Loved your post! Thanks for joining us at Inspire Me Monday!
Thank you for visiting, Cindy and happy shopping! 🙂
Beautiful words of encouragement, my friend! I guard my light way too much–I don’t want to be in the spotlight (I’m more comfortable on the sidelines). Thank you for linking up :).
Thank you for visiting, Anita!
This is just all kinds of lovely, my friend! You know how much I love to speak of Shining On… and this whole collection at Incourage.me – it’s flirting with me BIG TIME! Love this!
Oh, me too! And I just love the letterpress blocks that you got. I just can’t figure out what “word” I want yet. So…SO many words!
Jennifer, as someone who struggles in the darkness, your post is so encouraging! Love those rings too. Have a wonderful day!
Thank you for stopping by to visit, Kim!
HI Jennifer, I am stopping by from #TellHisStory This post was so encouraging yet also challenging and I love it!!! Encouraging that through Him we WILL shine but challenging because sometimes we don’t want others to notice us… beautifully written! I am tweeting this one 🙂
Blessings to you!
Thank you for sharing and encouraging me, Danise. Much love!
How i recognise that desire to remain hidden and yet because Jesus, the light, has come and lives within me, I have no choice but to shine as I follow him. Such a lovely story thank you 🙂
Thank you so much for visiting, Tania!
Arise and shine – such an encouraging word here today. The world is a dark place and yet a chance for His lights to shine even brighter.
Mindy, I agree. The darker it gets, the more we need to shine. Thank you for visiting today!
This is beautiful, Jennifer. And good timing too since I’ve started memorizing Psalm 27 this week, beginning with this “The Lord is my LIGHT”… As he shines, we reflect that light, even when we’re not aware of it like you singing in the tree. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Lisa!
I absolutely love the story of you sitting up in the tree and singing your heart out with no idea that others could hear. I think you’re right that God desires for us to shine instead of living in our usual self-conscious way.
Darcy, I think I lived a good portion of my childhood oblivious to things like that. I assumed the shower was sound proof, as well. 😉 Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your encouraging words!
I love that moment when the hair gets pinned back and the light shines again. Grateful for your reminder today. Keep singing!! Glad to find you through Holley’s linkup today.
I agree that I too often want to not shine but to fit in. Instead of being bright I want to be beige. I need to get out of my comfort zone more!