The Light of the World

by Susan Rigby

December 12, 2018


The Light of the World

By Susan Rigby


I love this time of the year. There’s something about it that makes everything look enchanted. It’s the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world. It’s the birth of the One who saved this woman’s life – out of the pit and into His bright and loving arms.

There are lights everywhere during the Christmas season. Lights cover houses that sit darkened the rest of the year and on decorated trees inside our houses. Some trees are decorated with a plan and a color scheme – one or two colors that are all symmetrical . . . or they are like my tree,  a collection of ornaments of places we’ve lived or visited or which come from friends. But one thing they all have in common are lights.

Even in our local news and on the internet you can find where to go to see the best decorations and those decorations include lights – lots and lots and lots of lights. Whole businesses have been successful just making the strands of lights, selling lights and putting up lights. When I think about it, all this to-do wouldn’t be the same without the lights.

Even something very ordinary like the mail changes. The mail brings an occasional birthday wish or a thank you card but normally it is filled with advertisements or bills. At Christmas, you hear from people you haven’t heard from in a whole year. Cards arrive with beautiful covers and sentiments, with snow covered houses and landscapes with a horse and buggy. The hopes and dreams of people far away are expressed sincerely.

But when I think about the most memorable Christmas of my life, it surprises me. I feel reluctant to tell that story because it isn’t the picture on the front of any Christmas card you would want to receive. None of us want to open that card. None of us want that to be our Christmas photo.

Somehow that year’s photo would capture a family in chaos. They are trying to figure out how to care for someone sick. He’s the Dad of the family in the photo. There is a wife, who’s trying to care for him and to keep her job going, and a daughter who’s doing the same plus takes care of her sick grandma while all this is going on.

The Dad was my husband, Jim. He’s the one who is sick and has just gotten out of the hospital on the 10th of December with terminal cancer. He doesn’t want Christmas to be forever ruined because he dies during Christmas.

Also, without a miracle, we are going to lose our home in a month or so.

The photo on the front of the card would show people scrambling between IVs and hospital beds and creating a space for Jim to live for a short time and then . . . to die.

If that weren’t enough, we also need to move an office of six people to a smaller place where they still need to finish up work because Jim is the owner of the business and he is sick and dying. The business is sinking, has been sinking for some time. Mainly because it’s the fall of 2008 and if you were an adult that year you know our whole economy seemed in danger of collapse.

A Christian businessman from Fullerton Free offers a space to move the business to close it down before it goes bankrupt. On the first of December, twenty friends from church come to help us move – and two other friends from church show up at the house to put up a tree and decorate it because they don’t want Jim to come home from the hospital without a tree – with lights.

He comes home from the hospital but a few days later has to go back. Paramedics have to take him because he can’t make it to the car or into the hospital on his own.

Later that day I come home to get a few things and I’m met by some neighbors I don’t know. They heard the ambulance arrive in the middle of the night and wanted us to know that they didn’t know what was wrong but they were praying for us and had asked their Sunday school class that morning to pray for this family in their neighborhood. They noticed the Christmas tree in the house, and I said my hope was to get a few lights up outside before Christmas.  

After a long day in the hospital with more sad news, exhausted, I came home to see my daughter and mother-in-law. As I drove down the street the outside of my house was lit up –  like a Christmas Tree. The neighborhood had a spontaneous party earlier that day to put up our lights, spreading light all over the world – our world.

That Christmas we didn’t have all the things that are the usual things you think of at Christmas. There were no presents that year. There were no big dinners or fancy parties. Just us – family and friends, filing through the house in an endless stream of love.

So, how is it possible that was my favorite Christmas of all time?

Because there was LIGHT! There was so much light in that Christmas. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus promised. Did we believe, even on that Christmas, that we would never walk in darkness? Yes. It is true. We will never walk in darkness. Never.

One day during that Christmas, my daughter Maryanne put her arms around me and said, “Mom, these are the most horrible and the most wonderful days of our lives.” Why would she say that? Why is it that those days were the most wonderful days of our lives even in the midst of being so horrible? Because there was so much light.

The darkness of that Christmas could not be sustained because there was sooo much LIGHT – Brilliant, Dazzling Sparkling Light because Jesus Himself is the LIGHT.

Postscript: Jim lived only three earthly months with that cancer but now is more alive than he ever was on earth. It will be ten years since that Christmas. Jim passed, in the twinkling of an eye, on January 16, 2009. We are so thankful for friends, the church and Jesus – the Light – for the blessing of these memories. And we still live in that house on Conejo Lane in Fullerton.


  1. Ann Warr on 12/12/2018 at 1:31 pm

    Dearest SUSAN,
    thank you for sharing that story. Your family have been an inspiration to us since we met over 45 years ago. The Light of Jesus shines in your home and your lives and encourages us too.
    Bless you and Maryanne this Christmas and always . Keep walking in the light!
    We love you, Ann and Bill

  2. Kristen Hartman on 12/12/2018 at 1:58 pm

    Oh, Susan, such a powerful reminder of the true Light of this season…and all the grief-filled (and joy-filled and ______-filled) seasons. Grateful for your words and your generosity of sharing your life with us!

  3. Helene Markel on 01/13/2019 at 8:33 am

    You are blessed among woman. Thank you for sharing your love and light with us.

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