Heavenly Sunlight


 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Jesus also used “the light of the world” to refer to his disciples in Matthew 5:14:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

This application of “light compared with darkness” also appears in 1 John 1:5 which applies it to God and states: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  The thought of Jesus as “the light of the world” and the disciples as “a city on a hill” reminds me of one of my favorite songs to sing in church, “Heavenly Sunlight.”

Heavenly Sunlight
By Henry J. Zelley

Walking in sunlight all of my journey;
Over the mountains, through the deep vale;
Jesus has said, “I’ll never forsake thee,”
Promise divine that never can fail.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

Shadows around me, shadows above me,
Never conceal my Savior and Guide;
He is the Light, in Him is no darkness;
Ever I’m walking close to His side.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,
Pressing my way to mansions above;
Singing His praises gladly I’m walking,
Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

If you live in the Southeastern United States, you are probably wondering if I have lost my mind because I am thinking of this song this week. We have barely seen the sun all week, and it seems like the rain will never stop. Constant rain. Flooded creeks and streams. Everything seems to be drenched and, if the weatherman is right, we might see sunlight again on Monday, but this last week sunlight has been few and far between. This time of the year is probably my favorite time of the year. Spring is beginning, flowers are blooming, and it is still a little cool and not yet too hot.

Even with little sunlight this week, the words of this song, written in 1899, remind me that there is a Heavenly Sunlight. A constant light. A light that illuminates my heart and my walk with the Lord. I can have, as another old song says, sunshine in my soul today, because I know Jesus is the light. He said “I am the light of the world.” The Bible says that His Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. His Heavenly sunlight can shine bright in our lives, even in the midst of dark clouds and constant rain.

I believe that the line “Walking in sunlight all of my journey” shows a clear distinction between truth and feeling. Between faith and doubt. Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He promised to be with us always, even until the end of the age. We know His words are true. Yet, even though we know theologically that we can walk in the light all of our journey, I will be the first to admit, it doesn’t always feel sunny. In the Christian life, there are times of doubt, times of confusion, and even times of despair. As a gay Christian, these feelings are often magnified, but I love the faith that the author displays when he writes that he can walk in sunlight over the mountains and through the deep vale. Jesus is with us. He is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother. He is with us in the good times, and yes, He is with us in the dark, rainy, dreary times.

Have you ever been around someone that sang all the time yet was down in the dumps? In some strange way, singing seems to be God’s cure for depression, and in the line “Singing His praises, gladly I’m walking” we see that we can walk gladly with God and he can alleviate our pain. Songs that remind us of His goodness can lift our spirits.  “When nothing else could help, Love lifted me!”  Songs that help us to reflect on His grace “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!”  Old hymns whose words remind us of God’s faithfulness to the generations. God can bring a song to your mind that will encourage you as you praise Him through words offered through singing. Struggling with doubt today? “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine.” Having trouble knowing what the next step is for you in your walk? “In shady green pastures so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along.” Can I encourage you today to “put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and to lift up your voice to God?” He can turn your weeping into rejoicing.

I am praying today that God’s Heavenly Sunlight will flood your soul. That He would so shine upon you that you have an overwhelming sense of His closeness and warmth in your heart. That He would shine upon every area of your life with sunlight of love, and that we could see the power of the Holy Spirit flood our souls with glory divine..

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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