“A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam …”
This line may be from a children’s song, but it has been a guiding light for my life.
If ever I feel that I am in a difficult situation, or tempted to be angry, or I am having a “bad day,” the line from this song comes to me and right away I change my attitude and let any miserable thoughts go. I have to pray for strength to battle against this grumpy attitude. I certainly can’t change my attitude like a switch using my own strength, but with God’s grace He can help me overcome the sin that is causing my mood. Whether that be selfishness, irritation, stubbornness, or whatever it is.
A face that radiates
But what does it mean to be a sunbeam? To me, the words “being a sunbeam” make me think of a face that radiates with happiness and love; a face that shines with light. Someone who has it this way is always good to be around, someone who always makes it good for the others. No one ever has to worry about offending people who have it like that, or making them grumpy, or saying the wrong thing. This kind of person draws others with their spirit. That’s the sort of face that I aspire to have, day in and day out.
But how can I keep up this happy appearance at all times? Often things come up, situations arise and I can “lose my cool”, or I can become irritated by others. Then this sunbeam goes away and is replaced by a gray cloud. A face that displays my feelings; unhappiness, impatience, or whatever they may be. Maybe you think that it is hypocrisy to always have a happy face on even if you aren’t feeling happy. That it seems like just a façade to make others think that your life is going better than it really is. In reality, is it possible to always be a genuine sunbeam?
For me, being a sunbeam means that I actually am happy despite what my feelings want to tell me. No matter what bad thoughts I may be tempted to, or what grumpy feelings may try to rise up in me, that I can say, “No, I don’t want to be like that,” and then decide to show forth the virtues of Christ – love, kindness, patience, gentleness, etc. Nobody has to know what trials I am going through that may tempt me to bad thoughts; they only need to see that goodness and light are coming forth from me.
No matter what kind of seemingly bad things come my way – dealing with unreasonable people, finding myself in difficult situations, etc. – no matter what battle is going on in the hidden, only goodness comes forth.
Free to be a sunbeam
But how do I become this person? Sometimes when I have miserable thoughts I don’t remember the song immediately. Sometimes it comes right away when my thoughts start to go in a dark direction, but sometimes I only catch myself after twenty minutes or so. As long as I am diligent in getting rid of those thoughts as soon as I become aware, then I am being obedient to what I know is right. If I let these miserable thoughts stay alive and affect my spirit, then they move from my thoughts into my heart, and I start to become a miserable, bitter, unhappy person. When I allow those thoughts to take over, then I become a slave to them: a slave to the sins of ingratitude, complaining, or other evil things. (John 8:34)
But if I am zealous and eager to overcome the moment I become aware of the temptation, then sin is put to death and I become free to be a sunbeam for Jesus! The life of Christ becomes manifest in me, and others can see it, and He can be glorified through me. (2 Corinthians 4:10). And the more that I overcome when I am tempted to feel miserable, the more natural it becomes until it starts to become my immediate reaction.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who 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.
As soon as I think about the song, “A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam …,” then my heart grows lighter and everything changes. I remember to be happy, I remember to be thankful for everything, and I remember to be a light for others. I don’t have to be grumpy and I certainly don’t want to be. Being tempted to be grumpy is very natural, but nobody likes feeling grumpy. It’s a choice. And we can choose to be happy. We can choose to be a sunbeam.