Fires and Flashlights

Connecting Points

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today’s Topic:  Fires and Flashlights

Today’s Text:  Isaiah 50:11    But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.

On Monday the Holy Spirit challenged us all to consider the True Light that shines in the darkest darkness of our hearts and lives.  It was a time for each one of us, if we chose to, to consider what or whom we really trust when times get tough. In fact, God designs the darkness so that we are brought face to face with the truth of our trust. That’s a reality many of us avoid facing. We want to think we really trust God, but when it gets dark we tend to turn on our own lights first.

God knew that was the truth about us when He spoke through Isaiah the words that follow His great promise of Light in the darkness. Read them carefully from the New Living Translation –

But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon lie down in great torment.

You see it don’t you? You see the natural tendency we all have to try to create our own light to show us the way out of the darkness. You see the reality that we build our own campfires called comfort zones that will hopefully sustain us in the darkness and protect us from whatever lurks in the shadows.

We build campfires using firewood from friends, finances, and family.  We spend our daylight hours searching for more firewood so that when the darkness comes we will be able to keep the fire burning. We even keep a pile of fast-burning wood that flares up quickly so that we can get instant relief, even though we know that after it is burned up it will leave us in deeper darkness. The wood in this pile comes from alcohol, drugs, sex, money, and any other self-worth pain reliever we have chosen.

We carry flashlights powered by disposable batteries of human wisdom. We stock up on batteries for the impending storm by seeking the counsel and companionship of people. We look for the ones that will give us the most light for the longest time, knowing full well that even the bunny gets tired and copper tarnishes. That’s why we keep buying more – more self-help books, more counseling sessions, more internet time. Somewhere out there someone has to be found who can really help us.

The problem with campfires and flashlights is that besides needing to always be powered by self-effort, they are motivated by fear. It is fear that makes us believe that fires and flashlights are necessary. When we finally admit that fear has taken over parts of our heart, we are on the way towards finding the eternal Light that shines in the darkness.

When fear is recognized and confessed, faith takes over. Now the True Light can shine, and it never needs to be stoked or stocked.  There is no human effort needed to keep the Light shining. It is powered by its own eternal nature, for God is Light!

So here’s what we need to do. First, let’s face our fears, and the best way to do that is to put out our campfires and shut off our flashlights. Go ahead – right now – fill a bucket with the Living Water of God’s Word and throw it on your fire. Then switch off the flashlight of human understanding. Go one step further – remove the batteries. Let it be dark with no hope of any human light. Now look up. Don’t look out into the darkness. Look up into the light of heaven. It may only appear as a twinkle at first, but when your eyes are on that twinkle you become unaware of the darkness around you. It’s only when you extinguish the fire and shut off the flashlight that you can see the stars. And when you do, fear is dissolved into faith!

Pastor John


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