Light is expensive, as many households are discovering with rising energy bills. Whether it’s generated by electricity, candles, or fire, something is being burned to produce that light. Something is being consumed. And it costs. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about how much it would cost to keep that massive menorah going in the temple night and day, but it would not have been cheap. Light is an interesting concept which God uses throughout the Bible to teach us important truths about spiritual reality. Here are some thoughts on the matter.
God is light
It’s a curious thing that God is described as light (for example in John 1:5), but also the Father of light (James 1:17) since light was part of His created order. But either way, the Bible often uses the themes of light and darkness to describe good and evil all the way through. It is not surprising then, that a key feature of God’s tabernacle was the huge menorah, symbolizing His presence.
Another curious thing is the way that blackness devours what is around it, absorbing light, whereas light radiates gently, affecting its environment and illuminating everything around it so that it overcomes the darkness. Here’s a dynamic we see about God and the enemy, light and darkness: God has infinite power, infinite resources, whereas Satan is limited. He is a created being and has no source of his own like God does. This is why God also uses the illustration of springs of water that constantly flow. In dusty corners of the Middle East, a bubbling brook is a remarkable wonder, as it enables life and continually gives. God is a producer, a giver, a never ending fountain, a light that continues to pierce the darkness. Satan, on the other hand, is like a vacuum, like a black hole that just sucks and destroys. The Apostle John (a big fan of the light / darkness theme) summarizes this idea perfectly:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
That’s the contrast. God gives, Satan takes. That’s the dynamic.
We see this dynamic acted out in a practical way in the account of Jesus on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter…
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Pete said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:42b-48)
Sickness and disease are the work of sin and Satan, not God. There’s a brokenness there, a need for healing power, and power is transferred. Jesus felt depleted, He felt the power go out from Him. This is ministry.
Power flows out from us to others. Light costs.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, but we need to understand what’s happening. If we fail to do so, we’ll be run dry in no time, exhausted and spent as we pour out our lives and shine our light at our own expense. That’s why Jesus frequently retreated to spend time with the Father. To be replenished with the perpetual power God supplies without limit. However more than just counting on God’s bounty to fill us up when we’re depleted, we are also responsible to check with Him to find out which things we should be doing rather than running around dealing with every need we see. We need to discover God’s plans for us and find out where He was working.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:19)
The power source
If even Jesus Himself was careful only to minister within the remit of what God was doing, in line with God’s will, how much more must we be careful not to run about like headless chickens without checking with the Father about what He would have us do each day? And God has indeed got work for us to do each day. He has planned good works specifically for each one us:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
God is not limited, but we are. We have to keep going back to the source.
Light is expensive, and pouring out our lives for others is costly. We must spend ourselves wisely, as God leads. He knows where we should invest, and what things are for others to take care of. He can show us where to shine our light for maximum effect, and when we are walking in the power of His Spirit, we can do far more than we could in our own strength. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came, and then they went out clothed in power from on high. It was a very different scenario! What boldness! What miracles! So in a similar manner, let’s make sure we’re spending time waiting on God so that we’re operating in the strength of His Spirit and in line with God’s own plans.
…But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32b)
If we’re going in God’s strength to do the good works He has already prepared for us to do, we can expect to see greater things flowing from our lives than any human could manage—great exploits! With God’s supernatural power flowing through us, we can punch well above our weight. God’s children can do remarkable things as we shine our light for Him in this dark world. But in order not to burn out as we shine our light, we must stay plugged into the never-ending source of light and life, who is God.
If you extend [spend] your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11)
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash