“You Are My Sunshine”…the cheerful title of a song first recorded in 1939. Some historians claim that the song was written by a man named Paul Rice, who later sold rights to a Louisiana college professor by the name of Jimmie Davis. Others say that Jimmie Davis wrote and played it with his steel guitar player, Charles Mitchell. Whatever the case, it is a tune we are now familiar with as a rather popular kids’ song. As most of you probably know, the chorus goes as follows:
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are gray,
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you,
Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
With such simple words and a catchy melody, this song is quick to get stuck in your head! When I have a song playing over and over in my mind throughout the day, I usually have one of two responses. Either I’m sick of the song by the end of the day and am quite ready to get something fresh in my mind, or I might ponder the words of the song and what it means. “You Are My Sunshine” doesn’t necessarily seem like one of those songs you would dissect to find its meaning, as the meaning stands out rather clearly, one might say, but I actually beg to differ.
About a week ago, I was writing a letter to a dear friend of mine, and at the top of the page I wrote the words, “Jesus is my Sun…But you are my sunshine, for you shine with the light of the Son.” My reasoning for this was that as I was writing this letter, that song popped into my head. At first, I thought to myself, “As sweet as those lyrics are, can they really apply to a person? I mean, isn’t Jesus supposed to be my Sunshine??” I mulled over that some and I realized something: That’s not completely true. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” you might be saying. “She needs to get her priorities straight! It’s Jesus first, and then
people.” If you were to tell me that, I would agree wholeheartedly, one hundred percent, with no hesitation! Confused? Let me explain…
God and Jesus are likened to the sun in a few places in the Bible. For instance, Psalm 84:11, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield…”; Malachi 4:2 (the Lord speaking), “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…”; and Matthew 17:2 (speaking of Jesus), “And he was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun…” Later in the New Testament, Revelation 21:23 and Revelation 22:5 both tell of how there will be a day when we have no need for the
sun because Jesus will be our light. Pretty cool, right?
Now let’s take a moment to think about our physical sun—that fiery ball that resides in space. What is it’s purpose? Well, looking back in Genesis, you’ll find that God created it to give us light during the day. The Bible also mentions the heat of the sun. Without the sun’s warmth, life as we know it wouldn’t be possible! Then there’s also good old Vitamin D, a nutrient that strengthens our bones and helps us absorb calcium from food. Vitamin D can be found in some foods, but most of the Vitamin D used in our bodies is made beneath our skin when we are exposed to the sun. The sun sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? But here’s my question for you: Is the sun also sunshine? And when I say sunshine, I mean the rays of light that shine forth from the sun. Some people might scratch their heads and answer with a tentative yes. I know I probably would if someone was asking me that question on the spot! And yet, that question can be answered with a no. You can’t have sunshine without the sun, but those dazzling streaks of light, though they may source from the sun, are not the sun in itself. In the same way, we as people are individuals created by God, but unless we are in Christ, we cannot live in light, nor live as lights to this world. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12) Without Christ, we walk in darkness, but when we invite Christ into our lives and follow Him, He gives us the light of life! What does that mean for us?
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:6-9). As we can see from this passage, Jesus is the true Light of which John was testifying. John himself was not that Light, the true Light, and yet he was also a light, as we read in John 5:35 (Jesus speaking of John), “He was a burning and a shining light…” How do you think John became that light? Or rather, Who do you think made him that light? Jesus. So if John, who believed on and testified of Christ was considered a light by Jesus Himself, what does that make us as fellow believers??
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” (Ephesians 5:8).
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
When we allow Jesus Christ, the Sun of righteousness, to be our life, He shines His light through us and we become that sunshine spilling forth from the Sun. And what is our purpose as those rays of sunshine? Think back to the song I mentioned at the beginning of this post. What is the second line of the chorus? “You make me happy when skies are gray.” As thick, gloomy clouds roll over the sky, what tends to be the result of that? The sun is no longer visible. Yet we still know it’s there, don’t we? Just because the sun itself cannot be seen, does not mean that it has completely disappeared. How do we know that it’s still there? Because we see the light glowing in those dark clouds. We see a ray of sunshine breaking through the dull canopy above. We see radiant beams, like golden fingers, reaching down to tenderly touch the earth. We are that light.
A good portion of this world “gropes in the dark without light”, they “stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:25), they “know not the light” (Job 24:16). And there’s another part of the population, people who have seen the Light, who have walked in it, who know its warmth, and yet threatening clouds have come to dwell in their skies, and they find it hard to see the Sun past that dreary curtain. We’ve all been in both groups before. We know what it’s like to stumble in darkness, for just as Ephesians 5:8 says, we were once in darkness until “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). We also know what it’s like to go through seasons of cloudy skies in which we are troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). We know. So what can we do with that experience?
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light…” (Isaiah 60:1-3).
“If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:36).
“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun:” (Ecclesiastes 11:7)
With Jesus as the Sun who shines forth His light through us, we can light the path of those who grope in darkness. We can reach a lost and dying world and bring them to the light of life. We can be that sweet and pleasant light that breaks through the clouds to give someone hope and the strength to press on. That becomes our calling when God “delivers us from the power of darkness” and “translates us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13); when He “calls us out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).
Take some time today to meditate on that. Think about all those people in your life who have been that light you needed when life got hard. Ask yourself, “What can I do to be that kind of light? How can I brighten her day? How can I shed some light on his path?”
“How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings…For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:7,9).
Jesus is the Son, and we are His Sonshine, for we shine with the light of the Son!