We enjoy life in the suburbs of Raleigh, but we’ve also had to acquire survival equipment. Our neighborhood languished for years at the end of one of Duke Power’s rural feeds, and minimal weather events often left us scrambling for flashlights and blankets. The backyard neighbors enjoyed light and heat provided by a different vendor of electricity while we pressed our noses to the icy windows in expectation of a visit from the white trucks with the blinking yellow lights.
One Christmas Eve as pies, breads, and all sorts of goodies baked, the power flickered several times then vanished. A measurable accumulation of ice from a passing storm toppled limbs which compromised the aerial power line feeding our area. On Christmas morning we opened gifts by the soft glow of a flashlight, and for dinner we feasted on chicken noodle soup cooked over a trusty Coleman stove.
We’ve rediscovered the old ways. The major emergency light deployed in our home during a power outage once belonged to Shawn’s grandparents, Raymond and Lillyan Smith. The Smith’s oil lamp burns for hours on a single tank of fuel, casts a cheery glow across the room, and dances happy shadows on the ceiling.
Before we light the lamp, Shawn polishes the globe until it gleams. Soot buildup inhibits the light. The same amount of fuel is consumed with a dirty globe, but the benefit offered to those wandering in gloom is dramatically reduced.
Life surrounds me with demonstrations of the practical teaching in God’s Word. Consider Matthew’s words about light.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 NASB
How silly for us to light the oil lamp and cover it with a bucket! We would stumble in the darkness and bruise our shins on the furniture. How could such a light contribute to an electricity-free but enjoyable afternoon of reading? What power would be present to calm a little one’s fear of inky darkness?
Matthew’s words remind us we are the light, and God expects us to shine. Paul added practical advice on polishing our globes to ensure our light is uninhibited.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world Philippians 2:14-15 NASB
Our oil lamp serves faithfully during power outages. Shawn’s example of cleaning the globe reminds me to tend my own light to keep it shining brightly. An old favorite song puts it this way:
This little light of mine.
I’m gonna let it shine…
Will you join me?