...into my Heart: the Flashlight
Most mornings at 5:00am, I begin the slog down the well-worn path of my morning routine. Like a mindless zombie, I tap my smart phone to turn off the alarm, brush my teeth, place a contact in each eye, turn on the coffee machine, and flick on the lights. With more than a little bit of embarrassment, I’m admitting to you my full embrace of this first-world, comfy, and advanced culture I live in and the reliance I have on the gizmos and gadgets that assist my morning “startup.”
It’s crazy to think about the long hours – even decades – of research from multiple companies that have educated my smart phone to be as smart as it is. Someone designed and tested my toothbrush to successfully clean the spaces between my teeth, even when I don’t brush well! A machine somewhere shaped a mixture of permeable plastics and silicone-hydrogels to give me a comfortable contact lens that allows oxygen to reach my cornea while correcting my unique vision loss and astigmatism! Who invented that?
I couldn’t tell you how my coffee machine works, but I praise God every morning that it does. (…and so do my kids!)
And electricity!? I can’t even start!
How many “common” items do we use every day and never stop to think about their journey of advancement or their intricate, purposeful “design”?
Recently, as I reflected on the book of John and the references (24 times!) to “light” throughout the account, I thought about another common but ingenious item we use all the time – the flashlight! What’s wild to me is how very much a flashlight parallels the life of a believer. From its design, to its function, and even to its purpose, we share a lot of similarities!
Let me explain…
Have you ever noticed the precision and detail of a flashlight? Every decision from its inception was for a purpose… a grippy handle, a perfectly shaped cavity for a specific battery, the capability of a light bulb in position to access the battery’s power, and, of course, an accessible switch to turn it “on.”
With the battery in place, however, there’s still one action needed to make the flashlight function as it was intended: to connect the power source to the light bulb! Only when someone presses the “on” button will the flashlight shine! In this final step, the designer’s intention was brought to fruition through the user’s action.
Our lives are fashioned similarly. Incredible design and planning went into the creation of who we are (read Psalm 139!), INCLUDING the empty void we inherited from Adam, which is only perfectly filled with the Life of God Himself.
The tragedy is, however, that even as “saved” believers, while possessing everything God offers in His forgiveness, freedom, and powerful presence, we can continue to journey through life as if we had none of it.
I mean, if you and I have been given “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), why do our lives feel so devoid of strength and purpose sometimes? We’re swayed by the ways of the world, stuck in addictions, hopeless in our waking, and fearful in our sleeping. Why doesn’t the Christian life seem to work? Could there be a manufacturing defect?
Of course, we come to find out that the problem isn’t with the design or the Designer. It’s simply that there’s one small part of the plan that demands our involvement; biblically, it’s called FAITH; not simply a statement of belief, but an active response to God’s intentions for us.
“…for just as the body without the spirit is dead, faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)
Faith and action go hand in hand. It’s one thing to voice your belief in something, and quite another thing to step out in your daily decisions, actively believing it to be true.
Have you considered the promises of God recently? He promises to provide a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). He gives wisdom to those who ask Him for it (James 1:5). He hears us (Psalm 34:17). He forgives our mistakes and does not condemn us at all (Romans 8:1).
What would look different in your day if you interacted with God and the people around you, actively believing these promises of His to be true?
We can memorize every promise in the Bible, but until our knowledge turns into the action of TRUE BELIEF, we are walking around like a flashlight with a fresh battery that has not been switched “on.”
And what good is that?
Could it be that when we connect our bodies and personalities (and schedules and dreams and goals) with the power and will of God’s life in us (and ABIDE there – John 15), God is able to shine light into the darkness of this world through us?
Is this what it means to be functioning as God intended? Is this when our Christian lives start to “work”?
The apostle John tells us WHY he wrote down his account of Jesus’ life: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) John says BELIEF is the key to access God’s intended Life for us, and he wrote these words to push us to experience it.
True, abundant life is found in submission to the purpose for which we were created. The One who engineered our lives has the perfect plan. That plan includes our participation, which is simply to respond to Him in belief. To live by faith shown in our actions and decisions.
What is He asking you to actively trust Him with today? What step of obedience, no matter how small or impossible it feels, gives His life and power access to your life to change and influence the world for His Kingdom? After all, “you are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) What incredible things would happen if you started to let that light shine!?
May we do our small (not insignificant!) part today - BELIEVING Him – to illuminate truth and shatter the darkness! Let’s stop taking His incredible design for granted but start functioning the way He created us to function, and in turn experience the JOY of being involved in His work!
“…this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4