Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Partying Light

“Mom! I need to talk to you!” she yelled with a notable tone of urgency in her voice. The door slammed and muffled pounding erupted from the stairs as she quickly made her way to my study. Recognizing a “mom moment” in the making, I abandoned the fragmented sentence on my computer screen and turned attentively toward my usually up-beat daughter.

She threw herself into the brown suede lounge chair that was positioned in the corner of the room. Her lips quivered and tears began streaming down her sunburned cheeks as she struggled to speak. “I’m not going to that party,” she finally whispered through her tears. My soon-to-be junior high schooler had been invited to a birthday party by a slighter older girl who lived down the street. A number of eighth grade girls were planning to attend the girly gathering and this was my pre-teen’s first invitation to a “Jr. High” sleepover.

Quickly deserting my seat, I knelt on the floor beside my daughter, brushing a tear from her chin. I listened as she explained some of the activities that the adventurous teenage host had planned for her party, which included midnight festivities around a Ouija board. My daughter then said, “I told her I didn’t want to play that game.”

After a short pause, she sadly declared, “I’m not going to go to the party, Mom.” Tears began streaming down my cheeks as my heart swelled with a mixture of motherly pride and compassion. We talked and prayed together for a few minutes, praising God for alerting her to the party agenda ahead of time. After a few words of affirmation, she wiped her tears and slowly made her way to her bedroom to talk to a friend. As I returned to my place in front of the computer screen, I marveled at how much my little girl had grown up. I praised God for giving my fun-loving pre-teen the strength and courage to make such a difficult decision.

Later that day, my daughter asked if she could attend a portion of the party. After further discussion about the importance of steering clear from any activities that involved the contacting of spirits (Leviticus 19:31), I agreed. She attended the party for a few hours, enjoyed a visit to the swimming pool and some beauty tips from a cosmetic consultant. But as the son began to set, she thanked the girl for inviting her and then quietly walked back home for the night.

I must admit, I sometimes struggle to find the proper balance between separating myself from wordly activities and going to the extreme of isolating myself so completely from mainstream society that I become indifferent to those who need a glimpse of the Savior.

When interceding for His disciples, Jesus prayed:

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified (John 17:16-19 NIV).

Jesus’ prayer made it clear that sanctification, which means to set apart for God’s use, does not mean isolation. We need to know the Word of God, live it out as best we can, and depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide our steps. We have to be careful not to withdraw ourselves so completely that we no longer reflect Christ to people around us. We are called to live out our faith before the world in order to glorify God and draw others to Him.

You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lamp stand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 NCV).

We are the light of the world. We must remain committed to purity, separating ourselves from activities that can contaminate our spirits or tempt us to sin. But we also must be careful not to completely isolate ourselves from people who need exposure to Jesus Christ. Like my daughter, sometimes that means we should be “partying light.”

-Mindy Ferguson
As appeared in P31 Magazine, February 2006 edition