This summer Bradley and I had the privilege of a kid-free vacation to Puerto Rico.
It was glorious.
Free time, sleep, no demands, no meeting the needs of little people, an opportunity to enjoy being together.
The purpose of our trip was to rest, so we didn’t take part in many activities or sight-seeing. But there was one excursion that we didn’t want to miss: a visit at night to a bioluminescent bay.
We found a tour company who offered paddle boarding tours to a nearby bay. After a brief introduction to paddle boarding we hopped in our car, grabbed dinner at a hole in the wall on the side of the road, and parked in the very dark and secluded yard of a Puerto Rican family. Our paddle boards were carried through the woods via the help of headlamps, and we found ourselves stepping off of a rickety dock into a wide, and shallow, bay.
There were no street lights, the flashlights were turned off, and the moon was just beginning a new cycle, so the only light on the bay that night was the twinkling of stars.
We began to paddle out toward the middle of the bay, and our guide told us to look down into the water. As we watched our oars hit the surface of the water, stirring up everything underneath, we began to see tiny lights sparkling. Our eyes became more adjusted to the darkness, and we continued paddling around the bay toward a grove of trees. We had to lower our heads to fit into the cove, but once inside it was pitch black.
And in the pitch black of the mangroves on this bay, as we got eaten by a thousand mosquitoes, we stirred up the water around us with our oars, our hands, and our feet, and we watched as the water beneath us lit up with the most incredible light.
Bioluminscent organisms live in this water all the time. But it’s not until the water is disturbed that they become visible. Not just visible. They become beautiful and shine with a light that is indescribable.
I couldn’t help but think about my own life.
What happens to me when I get disturbed? Do I shine when my life gets stirred up?
Smaller interruptions like a child who won’t sleep through the night, a friend whose words injure my heart, a schedule that doesn’t go as planned, a stomach bug that won’t seem to stop spreading its way through our home.
Or even life’s bigger challenges like the death of a loved one, an unexpected illness, a dream that goes unfulfilled.
My tendency is to respond in anger, frustration or irritation when the plans for my life are disturbed.
But, God says that these things, these ‘trials’ as 1 Peter calls them, are meant to be a test of my faith. Just like gold that goes through fire and comes out more beautiful, these stirrings-up in my life are meant to make me more beautiful. They are meant to bring me into a deeper relationship with Jesus, where I trust Him more fully, cling to Him more closely, and delight in Him more deeply.
The Light of the World wants to shine through my life. Sometimes He does that by stirring things up, not to quench the light, but to make it shine more fully.
And as I allow myself to get stirred around in the fires of faith testing, I can come out more beautiful, shining with the Light of the World in my soul so that others may see the glory of God and praise Him.