As might often happen on a crisp autumn day, a little girl goes out to play in a grove of trees behind her family’s house. Winding through the trees, she finds familiar pines and stops for a picnic under the yawning branches of the white birch. Squirrels chatter, birds sing, and the little girl feels the peace of knowing she’s a part of this great world. Safe, familiar, home. Curling up on the soft grass beneath the tree, she falls asleep.
Startling awake, she finds that time has passed her by and light is fading. Suddenly, these once familiar woods seem strange and tall. Yawning branches now seem like menacing arms, clawed fingers reaching down to harm her in the dark.
She turns, searching, seeking the light that beams from the dining room window. A beacon of light, to draw her home again.
On first reading the words from Psalm 27, a scene much like the one above might come to mind. When we’re afraid, facing trials, and all alone, we want nothing more than to seek the LORD with all that we have. To hear that the LORD is our light and our salvation turns us to seek God’s presence, much like the little girl looking for the house’s lights to guide her way. It’s little wonder the Psalmist says words like these. “One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” When times are troubled, we want nothing more than to be safe at home again.
But as I sit a little longer with this text, I wonder: do I have this story quite right? Our little girl has lost her way. The home she thought she’d found in the grove has turned against her, and she’s trying to find her way back to her true home – turning, stumbling, straining her eyes for a light to guide her.
I can’t help but think that’s what I do all too often. Caught up in the joys of this life that I’ve been given, I venture out into the world, picnicking under the familiar trees—a comfortable job, the respect of colleagues and peers, a happy, healthy family. But too soon, my confidence is shaken as the truth sinks in that these things will never truly satisfy. This is not where I belong. So I seek. I strive. I try to prove myself, working so hard to find God’s presence—my true home.
Maybe instead of trying so hard to find the way back home, the little girl needs – I need – to stop, take a moment, and realize that as much as I seek after God, it’s really God who’s seeking me.
As night falls, the little girl’s mother looks out the lighted window, waiting for her daughter to return. Grabbing a flashlight off the shelf, she too winds through the trees, calling, shining her light in search of her sweet child. Light bounces off the great white birch, revealing the girl, huddled and alone. For all her searching in the dark, she couldn’t see the light from the windows. She couldn’t move for fear of falling. The mother scoops her child up in a tender hug. Flashlight beams light their path as they head for home, hand in hand.
Truly, the LORD is our light and our salvation. But not from afar. The good news of the gospel is that God shines his light among us. Christ, our Light, dwells with us. As we seek, we find that in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are already found. In his light, we are already home.