The Lang Gang’s 2016 Christmas Letter
“I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Dear Family and Friends,
One of the iconic landmarks of our little town of Mount Dora, the lighthouse on Lake Dora is designed to guide boaters safely to the marina after dark. Florida’s waterways are a great source of recreation and adventure, but they are not without their dangers, and lighthouses like ours help those adrift in darkness to find their way home.
Consider for a moment what it’s like to be “adrift in darkness”—to have no sure foundation and no clear sense of direction. If you do nothing, you surrender to the ever-shifting waves and currents which may take you where you do not wish to go. On the other hand, if you strike out into the darkness, you may run aground or become hopelessly lost. In such dire straits, a light that points the way home is a light that gives life.
In the days of the prophet Isaiah, the people of Galilee, in the north of Israel, were a people living in darkness. A foreign army had invaded their land, disbanded their government, and carried much of the population off into exile. The only Israelites who were left were too poor and weak to be much of a threat to their new overlords. Yet God promised that they would one day see a great light:
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. … For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2–6)
It is this child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus came as a light that gives life, the “light of the world” (John 8:12) which “shines in the darkness” and which the darkness has not “overcome” (John 1:5). No matter how adrift in darkness we are, no matter how desperately lost we find ourselves, the “light of the world” will lead us home.
It’s interesting how many Christmas songs and stories center around this idea of coming home: “I’ll be home for Christmas,” “no place like home for the holidays,” even “the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door.” Somehow, the celebration of Christ’s birth always seems to direct our steps homeward, much as the Roman census led Joseph to travel with Mary to his ancestral home of Bethlehem.
This Christmas, the majority of our children are now adults who are merely coming home to visit. David (21) is out of college and having a ball (pun intended) working as a dance instructor. Caleb (20) and Bethany (18) are both at Florida State University majoring in Theatre. We’re looking forward to having them here for a few weeks, but then they’ll be back in Tallahassee and who knows where beyond that. Our “gang” is no longer all in the same boat, and Lisa and I are learning to trust that they will be able to explore new shores and experience new vistas without losing their way. When they were children at home, we could help light the way for them, but now, we live in the hope that “no matter how far away they roam,” they will always look to Jesus and walk in His light.
As for the two who are still at home, Alexa (15) is already beginning to look to the horizon. Her passion is playing the violin in the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, and she will have the opportunity this summer to travel to Europe on tour. Thankfully, Josiah (7) does not currently have any travel plans, although his imagination takes him on daily trips across the rooftops of Gotham City and New York, across the sea to pirate ports-of-call, and across the universe to galaxies far, far away. It would seem that even when they’re little, our children are preparing themselves to one day strike out on their own.
That, of course, is as it should be, and we parents must adapt to our children’s change in orbit. Our homes must transition from being the center of their worlds to being that safe harbor that beckons whenever life’s waters get too rough.
This Christmas, we pray that wherever you are and whatever you’re facing, you would look to the Light of the World and follow Him “out of darkness and into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Christmas is the celebration of that moment when the “true light, who gives light to everyone” (John 1:9) came into the world to bring us Home. We’re not meant to remain adrift in darkness. The Light shines. Safe Harbor awaits.
The Lang Gang
David, Lisa, David, Caleb, Bethany, Alexa, and Josiah