A missionary serving in a Nordic land that receives only a few hours of sunlight each day in the winter season, quoted advice he and his companion had received during a visit from a senior missionary couple tasked with inspecting apartments in the mission.
“[She] taught us about the importance of keeping our curtains open so we can take in as much light as possible during the dark winter days, so to always have them open if there is light shining outside,” he related.
“It doesn’t really take a genius to make the gospel connection here. We need to take in as much spiritual light as possible while we have the chance before the day grows dark and cold and the warmth and light are only a memory. We do that by seizing any opportunity we have to obtain ‘spiritual light,’ by going to church every Sunday and actively paying attention, actively taking in light, reading the scriptures daily, saying prayers daily, and really appreciating and absorbing any light we can get our hands on. So get some spiritual vitamin D, every day!”
In drawing the analogy, the missionary was alert to a gospel truth that we all should bear in mind, one that applies in an eternal sense as well as in a day-to-day context.
Ancient scripture gives us this imagery: “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).
Latter-day revelation expanded upon that passage in 1831 at a time when some of the elders of the Church had been confused by certain so-called spiritual phenomena that were taking place among the members. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord Jesus Christ declared:
“That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
“That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:23-24).
Commenting on that passage, President Joseph Fielding Smith remarked: “There is no saying of greater truth than ‘that which doth not edify is not of God.’ And that which is not of God is darkness, it matters not whether it comes in the guise of religion, ethics, philosophy or revelation. No revelation from God will fail to edify” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:201-2).
Those words are as true today as when President Smith uttered them years ago. Whether it be in the form of false spiritual manifestations, as in Kirtland in 1831, or in the form of false philosophies or ideologies, darkness has always beset mankind. In the Doctrine and Covenants section cited above, the Lord said He gives truth “that you may chase darkness from among you” (see verse 25).
In multiple latter-day revelations, He echoed the words from John 1:3, declaring, “I am the light which shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not” (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:21; 34:2; and 45:7). We learn elsewhere in scripture of the light of Christ “which proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space,” a light “which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed” (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:12-13).
It is our lot in mortality that we at times must navigate our way through darkness, whether it be in encountering falsehood or enduring times of physical, mental and spiritual adversity. At such times we might remember the words screenwriter Steve Kloves gave to the character Dumbledore, the fictional headmaster in the movie “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Says Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
As the above missionary observed, that light will be more readily available to us in times of need if we seize opportunities to absorb the light by engaging in behavior that illuminates our souls.
One way we bring light to our own lives is by endeavoring to illuminate the lives of others.
In the early days of his ministry as a General Authority, Elder Neal A. Maxwell penned these metaphorical words regarding the duty of God’s people to lift others: “We, more than others, should carry jumper and tow cables not only in our cars, but also in our hearts, by which means we can send the needed boost or charge of encouragement or the added momentum to mortal neighbors” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, Deseret Book Co., 1979, p. 56).
We can give such a “boost” or “charge” or illumination to others in countless ways: a helping hand with a needed task, a home-cooked meal, a timely referral to someone in need of employment, well-placed encouragement and advice to a parent struggling to lead and teach a wayward child.
There are more subtle ways to bring light into others’ lives: a kindly greeting to a stranger in an elevator or on the street, words of praise to a child who has done well on a school assignment.
If we let the light of Christ shine through us in our interactions with others, we help prepare their hearts to receive further light and truth as they become prepared for it.
The recent Christmastime initiative in which the Church called on its members to “light the world” through daily small and larger acts of service was a remarkable success that brought light to givers and receivers around the world.
Let us continue the spirit of that initiative throughout the year, bringing light to others, even as we get our daily dose of “spiritual vitamin D” by letting the light of divinity shine into our hearts.