What a difference the light makes…

“And just out this window you will have a beautiful view of the river…”

We had arrived at our destination after the sun had fallen, it had been a good trip but it felt like we had been taken into the middle of no-where and it was dark. There were no stars to be seen and no moon gracing us with its presence. For most of the afternoon it had been raining steadily and how we had arrived at our very nice accommodation but it was dark, cold and wet. We looked outside but we could see nothing at all. I found myself trying to imagine what I was missing and the longer I looked, the darker it seemed to get. I wondered if it was going to live up to the expectations I had been encouraged to hold – I would just have to wait until the morning.

What a difference the ‘light’ makes!

When the dawn arose (I was awake because of the time change), there truly was a sight worth seeing; an expansive river, framed by a picturesque grove of trees, an un-interrupted and totally natural viewpoint which refreshed your heart just by looking at it. The little Bungalow where we were staying sat right on a bend in the riverbank so from every angle it felt like you were surrounded. To say it was peaceful was an understatement and to say that it lived up to the hype was dreadfully inadequate.

The fact was that the beautiful view was there the night before but we couldn’t see it because it was obscured by the darkness. The fact was that the ‘peace and tranquillity’ were there but they were overrun by the effects of the cold and falling rain.

One of the sad things in life is when our circumstances overtake our potential and when the challenges we face cause us to lose sight of all that is available to us. The truth is that many positive opportunities are missed because we never allow ‘the light’ to shine upon us. Darkness closes in and traps us in a cage of unbelief and doubt and we miss out on what could belong to us.

The purpose of God and the very mission of Jesus; was to come to earth as ‘the light of the world’ – to shine true light on our potential and to demonstrate the picturesque nature of a life lived on His terms.   That is an image worth seeing and that is a life worthy of waking up for!

The flat battery…

I don’t want to admit that I made this mistake but I did. It is a classic error and one that you are do not know you have made until it is far too late…

As I approached my car I was suddenly frustrated to find that the button on my remote control was not working – in fact, none of the buttons on my remote were working – and then the possibility of what had happened dawned horribly upon me. Two days before, very early in the morning, I had parked my car in the long-term car-park at the airport and had flown off to Melbourne – the only thing was that I had left the lights on. So when I returned to the car, everything was dead and I was more than a little stuck. I had to push the car out of the car spot (much harder than it sounds when the power steering is not working), pop the bonnet, look forlorn, flag down a passing car and ask them for a jump start – as I always say, it is always good to meet new people!

As I was on my way home after only a delay of 20 minutes or so, I thought about how I had made such a rookie and clichéd mistake. Like most modern vehicles the motorcycle I ride most days and our other car have automatic headlights – they turn on when you start the car, they get brighter when they are needed and they turn off when you turn the key – but it is still my fault, because my current car has a warning buzzer which sounds when you leave the lights on!

I was in such a hurry to meet my take-off deadline that I completely ignored the warning and rushed off, oblivious to the problem I had just caused for myself.

On the way home I also thought about the solution, all I needed was a momentary spark of life to reignite what had been completely dead… The car’s electrical system is designed to regenerate itself as long as there is enough stored within to start the engine… the human Spirit is the same but can become depleted and weary with all of the challenges life offers.

All of us have had a moment when we have ‘left our lights on’ and found ourselves with nothing left and no ‘spark’ to speak of.

I was happy for the guys who stopped to give me a jump-start and I am happy for the One who is always ready to assist us when we call.

“He gives power to the weak, & to those who have no might He increases strength.” Isa 40:29

The ultimate turnaround!

When was the last time you experienced something turning from good to bad unexpectedly and without warning?

Perhaps it was something really superficial – like ordering a meal from the menu and when it arrives it doesn’t look anything like you expected. Perhaps it was something a bit more important – a task that you thought was going well suddenly takes a turn for the worse and you are left confused and embarrassed.   Perhaps it was something that leaves lasting effects – the breakdown of a relationship or losing someone who was really close to you.

The truth is that we all suffer losses throughout our lives: we lose our innocence; we lose our youth; we lose friends; we lose opportunities; we get injured; people misuse us; hopes fade; we make mistakes; disasters happen and… we eventually come to the end of our lives.

I am sounding every depressing today and that is not my purpose – the fact remains that all of us have (and will) have moments or seasons in our lives where good turns to bad and we are left with an opportunity to respond.

Our choices are either despair or hope.

This is why I love Easter – this is why I celebrate it above all other times of the year – the benefits of Easter pervade every aspect of my life and stand as a powerful hope to us all.

Easter was the ultimate in good turning bad. Jesus – the kindest, humblest and most generous individual – is killed brutally because of jealousy and fear. He had called all men and women back into relationship with God through Himself and the response of the world was to crucify Him.

All our hopes and possibilities seem to die with Christ on the Cross – and yet this is why I love Easter. He is taken down from the cross, placed in a tomb which is sealed and guarded, three days later He rises from the dead to prove and proclaim that He is the Son of God and that hope is alive for all!

If it were not for the good turning bad we would never have seen it turn around yet once more!

Easter is your opportunity, to celebrate hope and to present those ‘bad’ situations in your life to Him… all your hurts, disappointments and pain; all your failures, shortcomings and shame.

He has an answer for them all.

For the words, which rang out on that first Easter, still ring out as loudly today…

“Do not be afraid, He is Risen!”  

The light we need…

I was doing a bit of work changing the position of a wall in my house and I had to do some planning around how things were going to work when everything was completed…usually I am pretty good at this sort of stuff but right at the end of the job I realised that I had missed something. One of the tasks before we could move this wall was to have the electrical work moved and reconfigured. I drew up the detailed plan and emailed to the electrician, he came to the site, suggested a couple of improvements and then got to work. It was not until all the walls were up, all the painting was done and I went to turn on the outside lights that I realised that the light switch was now hidden away somewhere in the wall cavity.

I had two choices in front of me – it could be fixed or I could live without the lights outside – the fix would cost me time, effort and money or I could live in the dark and the 4 lights outside could sit there doing nothing for the whole time I live in this house…but why would I satisfy myself with that?

The best answer is to call back the electrician, find the wiring and make whatever changes have to be made to get things working again.

Then we can have all the light we need.

 

Jesus told a parable regarding seed and thorns… He used the seed as an image for His message of light and life and the thorns as a sign of the cares of the world that cover and constrict that message, leaving us in the dark.

The fact is that you may have had light in the past, you may have even had a close relationship with God but the difficulties and challenges of this life may have hidden the ‘light switch’ and you now find yourself just a little darker or colder than you would like.

As our lives move forward we find many things which ‘get in the way’ of our simplicity and our brightness. We need to be careful that we are not satisfying ourselves with material things and spectacular sophistications which leave us cold and without light in a world that desperately needs it.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12

When the lights are off…

It is a small thing and I am not really complaining because I know that many others are far worse off than me but it makes things difficult. I have been without lights in my office for the last week and a half – ever since the big storm came and overflowed everyone’s gutters, filled our ceilings and leaked into our homes.

I attempted to reset the circuit breakers but they kept tripping off, pointing to the fact that there is a pool of water somewhere in the roof causing a short circuit and someone with training and skills will have to come and work this one out.

I have power, I have Internet but I just don’t have lights. I can work through the day (I can open the curtains and let more light in), I can take my appointments so nothing really is different – but it just doesn’t seem the same.

I know it is crazy but my office feels colder – even though the fluorescent lights give off very little heat. My office feels smaller – the walls seem closer in and it is much less comfortable than before. I cannot see as well – usually I can read without problem in my well-lit office but this last week I have had to wear my glasses all day. My days are shorter – I usually get to my desk pretty early and some days I leave after dark – but not this week. I have spent as little time as possible working in my office; I have deliberately planned activities which kept me on the road.

I know that sometime in the next few days an electrician will come and sort out this little problem and everything will go back to normal and I will probably forget about it. But when you face a challenge – no matter how small – there are often lessons to be learned from it.

This rainy, stormy season has probably taught you many things as it has me. But the most important lesson I have learned is how much I appreciate the light.

You often don’t recognise how important something is until it is missing – perhaps you are missing the warmth, expansion, and vision that is actually available to you. Remember – He (Jesus) is the ‘Light of the World’!

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all men and women. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.” John 1:4–5