Sometimes you’d just like to feel a little radiant. Or at least I would anyway.
In our current season of lights, I’ve been reflecting on that word “radiant.”
It all started when I read Psalm 34, probably my favorite. David’s psalm is loaded with great truths, and I love how God’s Word always speaks to me, but in new and different ways.
This time, what caught my attention was verse 5:
“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Radiant? Wait a minute! Wasn’t that a word from Charlotte’s Web?
(This is how words bounce around in a writer’s weird mind.)
The question wouldn’t leave me. I had to know. So I refreshed my memory of this charming story. Went to the library and read a children’s classic.
“OK, Wilbur,” said Charlotte. “You can go back to sleep. OK, Templeton, the soap ad will do, I guess. I’m not sure Wilbur’s action is exactly radiant, but it’s interesting.”
“Actually,” said Wilbur, “I feel radiant.”
Yes, in E.B. White’s book, “radiant” is the third word Charlotte the spider weaves into her web while trying to convince the Zuckermans that Wilbur the pig deserves to live. Templeton, the barn rat, brings Charlotte a soap ad with the word “radiant” on it.
Charlotte then has to decide if the word accurately describes her piggy friend. But Wilbur doesn’t need much convincing at all. It took him a little while to start feeling “terrific” (the second word woven into the web), but now he feels “radiant” almost immediately.
Wilbur is feeling the love of his friends. He has started to glow from within; he seems brighter somehow! Even living in a manure pile cannot stop Wilbur from preening.
Have you ever seen someone glowing from love?
Recently an older couple at our church got married. They are both in their seventies. Everyone was surprised and delighted for them—they seemed so happy! So radiant!
Seeing them made me want to be radiant, too.
Radiant is a sparkly, desirable word that seems especially appropriate at Christmas. But it’s available to us anytime we look to the Lord. Seek Him, as Psalm 34:4 says.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
I’ve heard it said that we never stand still in our relationship with God. It’s like being on the ice. We are either going forward or slipping backward. There is no standing still.
Unfortunately, I think I’ve been allowing difficult circumstances and the fear associated with them to pull me into a backwards slide. Not a lot of radiance there.
The apostle John wrote that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
Wilbur the pig felt the love of his friends, lost his fear of being eaten and became radiant.
The newlyweds at church felt the love of God and each other, and they became radiant.
All I was feeling was the weight of my circumstances. And fear—fear that dominated my heart. Indeed! That was the problem. My focus was on my circumstances and my emotions and not on God’s love shown in my circumstances.
Reading Psalm 34 helped to reverse my slide. Once I remembered to look to God, well, things improved. I’m not sure radiance resulted, but it was a start. An internal shift.
Looking to God meant getting quiet and pouring out my concerns to Him. Then choosing to turn my worries over to Him. Daily, if necessary. Only then could I begin to see God’s hand in my situation and be grateful.
I find that in this season of artificial light, it’s easy to lose track of the real Source of radiance. The world gets so noisy!
But when we make the simple choice of getting quiet with God, we begin to see the world with a clearer vision. And with a radiance found only in Him.