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There’s a house for sale in a good neighborhood. It sits on a little rise, slightly above its neighbors, enjoying a prominent location. But, although the house gets lots of enquires and plenty of foot traffic, there have been no serious offers. The realty agency is puzzled and since the owner is a friend, one day the head agent decides to accompany a young couple to take a tour of the property. As they round the corner and the house comes in to view, everyone in the car notices the way it seems to shine.
Pulling up to the mailbox, the couple is filled with excitement and anticipation as they imagine what it would be like to make this house their home. But, as they approach the front door, the agent is shocked to notice some serious problems. There’s a visible crack in the foundation. Rotting boards on the porch have been “hidden” by a thick coat of paint. And the story inside is even worse. The husband frowns. His wife politely asks, “Do you have any other houses in this neighborhood?”
It’s a familiar tale. Some person or thing seems to shine brightly from a distance but, as one gets closer, it is evident that their brilliance is mostly a facade.
Author and teacher Randy Harris tells of a time when, in talking about this dynamic, someone referenced the acronym ‘D.D.D.W.’ Asking for clarification, he was told: “It means, ‘Darkness and Distance Does Wonders.’ I used to spend a lot of time in bars,” the man continued, “and sometimes when my friends and I would notice an attractive woman across the dimly lit room, we would end up disappointed because in going over to investigate, we would realize that she actually looked better from a distance!”
While that acronym was invented to describe physical attractiveness, it also holds true for the way our personalities and spirits shine. There are people who shine their brightest from a distance. Maybe they have a large platform or a large personality, and that gives off an aura of spirituality. But it is disappointing and discouraging when we find that the more time we spend with them and the closer we get, somehow their glow gets dimmer. They shine in all their brilliance from a distance, because that is how they look best. The ways they treat those around them do not seem to line up with their public persona.
That is not how it should be.
While Jesus lived in a way that served and blessed the crowds, He seemed most concerned to connect with and impact those right around him. His glow illuminated best those people closest to him.
We should live lives that focus on offering our best – and God’s best – to those right around us.
So, while I certainly want my children to shine from a distance, what I really desire is that as people get closer to them they would find their light to be even more brilliant. Instead of “darkness and distance doing wonders,” I want people to find that “proximity and presence” with them proves to be even more wonderful.
May we model for our children a life that exemplifies a greater glow. One that blesses and en-light-ens most those who are closest to us.