I was walking out to my barn last night with a small lighter, as I was going to burn some trash. Now that it’s getting dark earlier, it was dark out already (or maybe it was dark because it was already 11:00 PM?), and I decided to see how much “light” I could get from that little lighter. So I flicked it on, and what do I see? NOTHING. In fact, the dim object I COULD make out before are suddently pitch black, as the glare of that little lighter overpowers any other source of light that my eyes are trying to pick up. All I can see is the fire. I can’t even see my hand holding it.
Then I tried something. I put my hand in between my eyes and the lighter to shield them from the intense glare of the flame. And in an instant, the ground lit up. For probably 20 feet all around me, I could see the ground, make out objects again, and easily make my way where I needed to go, and even find something dropped on the ground. But if I didn’t have that hand in the way of my eyes, the flame simply overpowered the light I actually “needed,” even though that flame was the single source OF that light.
So what’s to learn here, if anything? I’m thinking about the gospel, about Jesus, and about the Light we so often attribute to him. I did a quick lookup of the uses of the word in the New Testament, and here’s some of what I found (I found it here):
- Matthew 4:16: The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
- Matthew 5:14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
- Matthew 5:15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
- Matthew 5:16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
- Luke 8:16: No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.
- Luke 15:8: Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
- John 1:8: He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
- John 8:12: Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
- John 9:5: As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
- John 12:46: I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
- Acts 22:6: And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:5: Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
- 1 John 1:5: This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
So Jesus is The Light, we are lesser lights, and we have light to share. Some of those who experienced Jesus directly were physically blinded by His light. We, on the other hand, are instructed to set our light out there for others to see, and to be led by. Perhaps the lesson, then, is that while Jesus truly is that light that finally illuminates a life and brings one out of darkness, it often takes some lesser lights such as ourselves, and our reflection of Christ, to show the way. Otherwise those who need Christ might be overwhelmed by his direct presence, by the sheer magnitude of God’s Word and all that He’s done for us, and even the scope of His plan, and how it goes far beyond our understanding.
And perhaps there’s something to be said about kind of “shielding” our own eyes as we walk through this life. If we’re constantly staring at Jesus, will our eyes pick up the little objects along our path? Or, now that we have a relationship with Him and have had our lives set back in order and been given direction, do we find a way to “use” that light for what it’s intended (illumination) instead of just how fantastic it is to stare at?
Something to think about, and to let roll around in my heart.