There’s a song from my childhood that has become a big part of who I am:
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,
To shine for Him each day;
In every way try to please Him,
At home, at school, at play.
Chorus: A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;
A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.
The lyrics to “I’ll Be a Sunbeam” were written by Nellie Talbot in the late 1800s. There’s not a lot of information out there on Nellie, but there is some speculation that she was inspired by the words of Judges 5:31 where it says, “…may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.” Her lyrics were then set to music composed by Edwin O. Excell in the early 1900s before being put in church hymnals. It’s a classic among children’s hymns.
I have only ever known and sung the first verse and the chorus. I recently looked up the lyrics and found simple-yet-deep meaning in the rest of the verses of the song:
Jesus wants me to be loving,
And kind to all I see;
Showing how pleasant and happy,
His little one can be.
I will ask Jesus to help me
To keep my heart from sin;
Ever reflecting His goodness,
And always shine for Him.
I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus,
I can if I but try;
Serving Him moment by moment,
Then live for Him on high.
As a child, I loved the first verse and chorus of this song. I remember trying often to “see” God in my playtime. I remember talking to Him, but I also remember a strong desire to see Him…really see Him.
Sunbeams became my way of seeing Him. I was in awe of them. I, like you–I am sure, was told never to stare at the sun, so I stared at the sunbeams that came from it. Sunbeams came aaall the way from that big ball of light we weren’t allowed to stare at, and they made their way aaall the way down to Earth. This fascinated the little-girl me. They came from the sun — in outer space (the second Heaven) — shot through our atmosphere and bolted through the clouds in layers and seemed to illuminate in such a glorious and beautiful way. This mesmerized me. To me, sunbeams were my childhood way of “seeing” God.
Somewhere along the way, I got the notion that whenever I’d see sunbeams, I was actually seeing a manifestation of God. The rays became His way of trying to tell me something, so I’d stop, pray and try to discover what He was telling me in that moment. Suspiciously, the sunbeams often appeared in times of struggle, sadness or deep thought. They provided a comfort, a hope and a way of Him telling me that all would be okay.
Even as an adult, I still stop and pray when I see sunbeams. Suspiciously, they still seem to often present themselves when I’m deep in thought or wrestling with how I think He’d lead me in a circumstance or situation.
These days I see God in so much of His Creation, in my children, in my marriage, in coincidences that are never coincidences, in healing, in heartache, in the Word, in messages from others, and in living a hope-filled life always challenged by circumstances.
These days, I always say a prayer when I see the light and the layers of sunbeams. It’s still one of my ways of seeing God. I am pretty sure He knows that when He needs to get into my head and my heart, He will when He sends those sunbeams.
Sunbeams are one of the ways in which I find HOPE. The Gravatar behind Hope Surrendered was chosen for this reason. It’s a photo I took a few years ago, and it’s a photo that reminds me of His constant presence in our lives. No matter what darkness rolls in and what storms are happening in the present, He is always above it all and is doing His thing to work it all for good for those who love Him.
In my daily walk, I try to be a sunbeam for Him, and it is my hope that you can see Him through me and through Hope Surrendered.