On a typical Sunday afternoon, my family eats dinner, has devotions, and eventually gathers in the living room to read. For many years, I spent this time doing written work or studying catechism, and afterwards, I would pick up whatever novel I had been reading during the week. Our coffee table almost always held a few copies of The Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights, but I never considered reading them until one day, with my parents’ encouragement, I read an article from Beacon Lights before switching to my regular reading. Though this reading began as something I was simply “supposed to” do, I grew to appreciate Beacon Lights for its relevance to my life and eventually became more interested in other Reformed reading. Beacon Lights is important to me because it helped me develop reading habits that continue to enrich my life as a Christian.
I believe that reading good, Reformed literature is an important part of growing as a believer. Words are an amazing gift from God that let us share ideas, express our faith, see God’s creation from new perspectives, and learn from God’s people throughout church history. Thousands of books, articles, and even blogs exist that can help us grow in our faith. Beacon Lights was my introduction to this world of Reformed reading. The articles are rarely intimidating in their language or topic. They do not shy away from difficult doctrinal concepts, yet also focus on applications to daily life. I remember reading articles about modesty, choosing a vocation, and dating, that helped me through high school. I enjoyed learning from the perspectives of ministers telling their stories of how they were called and from the perspective of elderly saints who lived during very different times, yet shared the same faith. When I found myself struggling to get into a regular habit of devotions, the daily devotionals helped keep me on track with a simple word of encouragement and reflection each day, and eventually, Beacon Lights became a place where I could share my own words with fellow believers. Because I began to read the approachable articles in Beacon Lights, I have begun to appreciate the other good writing by both our Protestant Reformed ministers and other Reformed writers that can help me grow in my faith.
Reading is a valuable resource to us, yet it seems that deep reading is not valued in society today. Most people and online publications emphasize quick reads that state the bottom line and take little time to digest. How many times have you read the first paragraph of an online article and then clicked on another link before finishing it? Wouldn’t you rather watch a two minute video clip than read a whole news report? I know I often find myself starting to skim after the third paragraph even when the article is interesting to me. Brief articles and videos certainly have their place in effective communication, but it is still essential to read more deeply. If we apply the “too long, didn’t read” mentality to the many books and articles about Christian life and doctrine, we may lose the desire or even ability to learn from the resources that God has given us. Even more importantly, if we can’t take the time to read an article that analyzes and reflects on God’s word, how can we begin to uncover the beautiful truths of scripture by reading the Bible ourselves? It is difficult to make the time to read, but developing the habit of reading and reflecting deeply on God’s truths is crucial, maybe even more so with our busy schedules, and Beacon Lights is an excellent place to start.
There are still several copies of Beacon Lights on the coffee table in our living room, and I’ll admit, I haven’t read any of them cover to cover. However, I am grateful to this magazine for opening the door for me towards meaningful reading, and I know that I can pick up any copy and find a word of encouragement, reflection on scripture, or new perspective to apply to my daily life. I pray that God continues to provide the means to supply these words of guidance and develop the important place of reading in our lives as Christians.