Cascading Rivers of Light

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (Epistle of James, Chapter 1:16-18. The Message)

I did a reading this morning of James Chapter One, in both the New International and Message versions.  This letter, written by the leader of the Church in Jerusalem which emerged after the death and resurrection of Jesus, has been quite instructive to me over the years.  I returned to it this morning, in search of encouragement and instruction.  James, on the whole, encourages action in the life of  the Christ follower.  He makes it clear that the words of a person are not enough to identify and characterize his faith, but that her actions, in particular in regard to serving the needs of others, and in personal morality reveal more clearly the person’s religion.

What struck me, today, and actually has brought encouragement is the view of God as the Father of Light.  Cascading out of this source are good and beneficial gifts, which are characterized in the Message as Rivers of Light.  Oh, to have eyes to see these rivers in all their glory; flowing, jumping, sparkling, glowing, advancing through life.  These streams of light are gifts meant for my good, and made apparent in my patient waiting during times of need and uncertainty.

Earlier in this chapter, the writer states, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.”  Is it somehow true, though not always apparent, then, that the various difficulties and trials that I find myself in on a daily basis are the gifts?  I would say, upon my reflection on these words, that it is true indeed that my inner life is revealed in times of test.  And I am thankful that I am still able to learn and grow, and so, there is still hope that I will continue to mature as the deficiencies of my inner life are revealed, as well as my assets.

I can speak of no one else, or for no one else.  Yet, for myself, I can point out that tests at times and in some situations reveal the following; impatience, anger, doubt, and fear.  At other times and in other circumstances, tests reveal joy, peace, hope, trust and courage.  If I looked at these contrasting times and situations with a view toward self assessment and using James 1 as a guide, could it be that the situations that come that reveal the undesirable resp0nses are the very ones that I should receive as gifts?  If I am reading this chapter right, it seems that the gifts are intended for my benefit as they cause me to recognize additional aspects of my self that are not yet given up to God’s purposes in my life.

So, then there is something familiar about this for educators. Isn’t this about a cycle of test, reaction, observation, assessment, adjustment and continuation?  It is interesting to me how similar this cycle is to what we would use in helping learners gain mastery in our content area.  And there is a similarity with the cycle by which teachers learn about their own instruction in order to improve it.

Perhaps this whole notion of difficulty as a necessary means of growth is something to be celebrated, yes?  And if that is so, maybe we should not think of these cascading rivers of light as gentle streams which bathe us in a warm, comfortable glow.  Rather, we might see them as torrential currents, throwing off violent sparks and flashes, brilliant colors of every hue to startle us, shake us, stimulate us, expose us and carry us further away from our current point and ultimately toward our reunion with our source, the Father of Light.

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