Saturday, May 3, 2014

Following and Shining the Light: A Devotional



Watching The Croods for the first time with my family was an unexpected delight. When my sister said she enjoyed seeing it with others, and we settled in to watch it all together after she received the DVD as an Easter gift, I wasn't sure what to think. I mean, the title and the little I'd assumed about the premise of the story made me think I was in for something ridiculous, silly, and probably crude. But from the menu clips and the Owl City song playing along with them, I suddenly became intrigued. And as the story unfolded, I became entranced.

Sure, there were silly moments. But I loved them. I laughed so much, and I was absolutely touched by the surprising depth - and yet, simplicity - of the theme. Follow the light. Don't be afraid to face the unknown in order to follow the light. Don't hide or remain in the darkness. Ride the sun into tomorrow.

There was so much symbolism throughout the movie with fire, starlight, and sunlight. The characters respected and utilized the daylight from the beginning, but they grew to understand it more - to love it and embrace it and strive after it. What was once just a background element of existence became a hope and a reason to live.


In a similar way, God is the reason we exist - the reason the world is sustained and life goes on. But there's a difference between being in mere existence and being truly alive. As Eep notes in the movie regarding her family's cave-dwelling existence: "That wasn't living. That was just...not dying. There's a difference."

As I've posted about for several Easters in a row, Jesus came to give us life - eternal life, which is defined as knowing God (John 17:3; see also 2 Corinthians 4:6). Psalm 36:9 says, "For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light." In Jesus we find that Light we are supposed to follow, the Light that beckons us from our caves of ignorance and fear and draws us out into grace and challenging but rewarding journeys.

As we walk in the Light, we don't understand it all at once. Like the Croods, we're initially, simply in awe of the "baby sun" and the "fire babies," then eventually overwhelmed by the millions of suns in the night sky, and finally blown away by the glorious sun that beckons us into tomorrow. In other words, when we're following the Light, Jesus reveals more and more of Himself to us as we long for Him, and He gives us the hope of His presence in and through the hardships. We learn that...

The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Proverbs 4:18

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6


In Cats Are Part of His Kingdom, Too by Cindy Vincent (currently on tour through May 8th), there are two devotions titled "He Leads Us to a Better Place" and "Let Your Light Shine." In the former, Cindy talks about moving - how cats can be frightened by the process but then come to love their new home. Cindy compares the experience with the ordeals we endure in life when we follow the Light...

Sometimes these ordeals seem like too much to bear, and sometimes it feels like we can't withstand another minute. But in the end...we often find ourselves in an even better place then we were before. The key is to trust in God, and know that He is leading us down the path to a better place... (p. 63)

And in the latter devotion, Cindy talks about bringing smiles to others while in a pet store, concluding...

Sometimes God puts things in our path that just makes us smile. For being a Christian isn't all about simply enduring and surviving. No, being a Christian is also about being in joy and faith, and knowing that God is in your corner. (p. 67)

Yes, we may feel less safe at times when we step out of hiding and face what is unknown to us. But the truth and the greatest comfort is knowing and believing that God knows, for everything is clear in the Light of the Son. If we bask in the Light, trusting in the Lord and acknowledging Him in every step, we gain direction and confidence (Proverbs 3:5-6). And as terrifying as it may seem at first to our unaccustomed eyes, we may be surprised by the joy we discover (see John 15:11).

I think that's one thing that struck me about The Croods - the honesty and hope and humor that came with following the light and seeking tomorrow. The characters' world changed drastically, but the fellowship of the journey and the hope of their goal made the story a "light"-hearted one that I fell in love with.

As my own life feels a little uncertain and a lot scary, comfort comes in knowing that - undeserved a gift as it is - the Son is with me. And though I've faltered and cried, I can sing along with this song from the movie...

No one can stop what has begun -
you must believe when I say
all of your tears will dry faster in the sun.
Starting today,
shine, shine, shine,
shine your way.



Grab your FREE Kindle copy of Cats Are Part of His Kingdom, Too now through May 6, 2014!

The blog tour for the book continues... Learn more on the tour page!

(Movie images from The Croods Facebook page. Music video from YouTube.)

10 comments:

pinks said...

Thank you for this post today- shine your way! God is our light, and sometimes we try and hide it, cover it up like Ebenezer in a Christmas carol but that light is beautiful and it is for us to have if we want Him! Very encouraging :)Hope you are having a good week :)

Cindy V said...

Beautifully done, Amber!! It brought tears to my eyes! And such a great message. You are definitely "shining" here!! And you're bringing lots of light to others today. Good job!

Hannah said...

Lovely post, Amber. I know, I was so surprised by the depth of the message in The Croods as well. :)

Jill Stengl said...

Thank you, Amber. Now I need to see that movie! I'm enjoying Cindy's book very much. :-)

Amber Stokes said...

pinks,

You're very welcome - I'm so glad it encouraged you! :) And that's a great reminder, not to cover up the Light that we've been given, but to shine it for others to see.

It's been kind of a crazy week with adjustments and whatnot, but I'm still blessed. :) Hope you had a great week, too!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Cindy,

Aww, thank YOU so much for the encouragement and kind words! Your friendship and advice have been such blessings in my life. :) So glad you were touched by this post!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Hannah,

Thank you! Yeah, I was definitely surprised by how much I loved the movie! We've actually watched it 3 or 4 times now, and I hope to watch it more again soon. ;) I'm not getting tired of the positive/hopeful message!

~AMber

Amber Stokes said...

Jill,

If you like fun animated movies with a hopeful message and a focus on family, I think you'd really enjoy this one! :) Thank YOU for checking out my post! I'm so thrilled to hear you're enjoying Cindy's devotional book. :) Can't wait to read your review!

~Amber

Cindy V said...

Amber, your "shine" theme also goes along perfectly with this Swarovski cross necklace for the giveaway! I was looking at it tonight, and -- Wow -- it's got some gorgeous sparkle and bling to it. The winner will definitely be "letting their light shine before men" when they wear it!!

Amber Stokes said...

Cindy,

Great point! Yay for some sparkle! ;)

~Amber