March 5, 2007

This little light. . .

Last night our electricity was off for a few hours. This rare occurrence had us searching for flashlights, candles, and a way to have supper without being able to cook anything. It also illustrated to me how easily I take things for granted. Every dark room I entered, I reached for a switch to turn on the lights.

After doing that a couple of times, I thought how I take the goodness and power of God for granted. The light He has given me about sin and eternal life is so much a part of the way I think and live; what would happen if that light suddenly went out? How would I manage in darkness? How would I feel if every time I reached for Him, prayer failed to bring anything and the darkness remained?

The power company’s recorded message said it would be on at a certain time, then bumped that time up. Eventually we went to sleep without any electricity. After a short while, it flashed on, long enough to know which lights we’d left on, but not long enough to do much before we were in darkness again. When the power did come on, I turned out my bedside lamp and went back to sleep, feeling good that life was back to normal.

For me, spiritual normal has become a sense of God’s presence, walking in His light, knowing His power. This experience reminded me that I assume it, and so easily forget that spiritual darkness is the norm for thousands. While I could consider myself in an elite position, His light doesn’t do that. Instead, I’m in awe that God has been merciful to me, and incredibly grateful that because of His grace, I’ve a measure of spiritual awareness. If He pulled the plug, I’d be no different than millions who don’t know Him.

My devotional reading today at first seemed to have little to do with this experience. It is about Mary, who broke an expensive flask containing precious oil, and poured the oil on the feet of Jesus. The disciples criticized her saying the oil should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus criticized them. While giving to the poor is a good thing, pouring out one’s self and one’s treasure as a blessing for Him does deeply please Him. He added, “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

I’m a practical person. I think that my salvation from sin is so God can use me in some way, whether by writing, teaching, sharing the Gospel with others, giving resources, and so on, but as I read this, and as I think of today’s to-do list, I could hear the Lord whisper, “Do it for me. Give of yourself for me. Don’t be concerned with the results in the lives of others. Your sacrifices please me. Do it for me.”

The light, the power, the life that I live is not for my convenience, even though I love being His child. His power is not so God can use me to help other Christians, even though He is gracious to sometimes do that. The light He gives me is not even so I can be a light for those in the dark, even though He could use it that way. Instead, in His commendation to Mary for her actions, He tells me that He gave Himself to me that I might give myself back to Him.

Yet this small ray of light, wonderful as it sounds, is a bit fuzzy and indistinct. I can see the light of His blessings, the light of being a blessing to others, but to be a blessing to Him? That is almost beyond my comprehension. He shines so bright and so true, that the thought of being or doing anything just for Him, fills me with awe. I feel like the smallest candle flickering in hesitance beside the brilliance of the sun.

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