Last summer I got very tan. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with an old friend on the patio of a hotel at which a large conference was being held. While we sat and reminisced about times gone by, the sun started to burn our skins. After about an hour or so, I came back inside and my wife said, Boy, you have a nice sunburn!” Later that same week, I was in San Francisco handing out tracts, and I got even more tanned.
It’s interesting that the longer you stay in the sun, the darker you get. Wherever you go, people can see your tan and know that you have spent some time in the sun. But then as fall advances and the summer months fade and become history, your tan fades too. By winter, you have totally reverted to your original pale state. If you happen to be one of the fortunate few who can afford to flee to warmer climes during the winter, you can regain your suntan. Or in this day and age, you can pay to sit for hours in a cubicle with a sun lamp over you. The point is that your suntan is directly related to how long you stay in the sun.
I see a spiritual lesson to be learned from all this. In the book of Exodus we read that when Moses came down from the mountain, his face glowed from his having been in the very presence of God. I think of it as something like a spiritual suntan. The longer Moses was away from that mountain experience, the more his facial brightness diminished. I think we can liken that experience of Moses to what happens in a believer’s relationship with the Lord.
When we are close to the Son of God there is a certain “Son-shine” about us that radiates to others as his love. As long as we stay in close fellowship with Yeshua the Son of God, and bask in his light, we reflect that light to others. When we stray from his side and begin to walk again in our own darkness, we seem to lose that spiritual Son-tan.
Medical people are advising that it is not healthy to stay in the sun too long in order to get a deep, “healthy” tan. It is an oxymoron* that healthy suntans can really be dangerous and carcinogenic. In this way, our analogy about Son-shine is totally opposite. As we believers bask in the “sunshine” of Yeshua’s Sonship, our spiritual health gets better, not worse. As we apply the oil of gladness and bask in the light of his presence, our spiritual complexions become deeper and richer. It makes us more attractive to others who may be seeking the peace and comfort that come from abiding in the Son-shine of God’s love.
* Editor’s Note: Our brother Jhan likes unusual words. If you don’t know what “oxymoron” means, don’t feel bad. We didn’t, either. Here’s Webster’s definition: “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness).”