For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone 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)
That was the theme verse my sister imprinted on the T-shirt design for my junior high fellowship, Sonlight. We aligned the words of the verse on separate lines so that the letters SONLIGHT shone out vertically in bright fluorescent yellow. We got it printed and were quite proud of the design, even later when people rediscovered them during a church cleanup and started wearing them for janitorial duties.
To this day that verse—and the fellowship where I discovered it—have left an indelible mark on me. I'm still amazed how God used that little fellowship of little middle schoolers to shine light and life into me. I remember one speaker, a radio talk show host from a nearby Christian station, who asked us how far a candle could be seen in pitch dark. 10 feet? 5 feet? A couple inches, before the darkness quenched it? "30 miles," she told us. "A single candlelight in pitch darkness can be seen 30 miles away."* Imagine what that meant to little junior highers, who felt no bigger than tiny candlelights in the sometimes oppressive darkness of school and society and puberty? My eyes opened like candles as I thought of that, as I thought of God's light shining that far through the darkness, of God's light shining onto me—junior-high-me—and reflecting off me as light to those all around me.
My grad fellowship today is named, coincidentally, Sonrise (no relation to Sonlight!). We're no junior high fellowship, but I am awed at how God continues to shines his light into fellowship as strongly and steadily as I remember him back in junior high. As we travel further along in our careers, new corners of darkness crop up in our lives as we face new dilemmas, disillusionments, doubts, yet into each dark corner he peers in and shines on us with his light, the light of the Son, in such a way that as the old translations put it, "the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5).
*I've never had a chance to verify the candlelight distance scientifically, but I'll leave it as a junior high memory and take her at her word.