Let there be light
When I was in college I was fortunate enough to find employment as a delivery driver at a local Pizza Hut. I had been working at the restaurant for several months and had managed to memorize the delivery area map. This was an essential skill as it enabled me to deliver as many pizzas as possible in as little time as possible. Additionally, I had invested in a 10 million candle power spotlight. These were the pre-cell phone and gps days, so the spotlight was invaluable as it empowered me to find the house numbers on those dark streets, lanes, courts and cul-de-sacs. The quicker I could make a delivery the quicker I could move onto the next one, which would always end in more cash in my pockets and to a college student, little was more important.
As I would approach the dark street, I would flip on the powerful spotlight and light up the neighborhood, shining from home to home looking for the corresponding house number associated with the address of the order. You could always tell the homes of “suspect activity.” When the spotlight would shine through their window…the interior lights would go out and the occupants within would dash out of the home and take off running…thinking that my spotlight was coming from the local fuzz. This didn’t concern me…unless of course the delivery address happened to be the now vacant home of lawless young people.
There came one night, as I was driving home from my late night shift, where I was sitting at a stoplight in my 1981 Plymouth Grand Fury. The car happened to be a former highway patrol car with a 318ci engine and a 4 barrel carburetor resting atop. The car looked pathetic, but it had plenty of lively ponies remaining under the hood. A large jacked up pickup truck pulled up next to me in the right hand turn only lane. However…the truck did not turn. It soon became obvious that the driver was not intending to turn, but rather to ILLEGALLY, go straight and get in front of me! “HOW DARE HE!?” I thought, “NOT TODAY!” I whispered under my breath. The light turned green and both he and I floored our respective accelerators. I am proud to say that my spunky yet boxy Mopar left him behind to wallow in his “too big for his ego” pickup truck. As the street narrowed he was eventually begrudgingly forced to merge into the proper lane behind me. He made his irritation known by turning his bright lights on and blaring into my car from the back window. I lifted my MaxiMillion 10 million candle power spotlight…pointed it out my back window…flipped it on and cried out, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!” His lights dimmed and he backed off…way off.
For years I have enjoyed that story and even found pride in my rusty but trust automobile, spotlight and my creative response. As I have aged, I have become aware of how prideful and dangerous my stunt really was. Even more so, I have been confronted with a parallel that I had never considered before. As a follower of Christ I have been given a light…THE light, within me. I am called to shine that light. Yet, sometimes I don’t think that I have done well at shining that light in a loving and effective way. Perhaps I have even at times used my light as a weapon or have shone that light in aggressive ways. The light of the Gospel is beautifully designed to shine into the darkness from hearts that have been transformed by the Holy Spirit. Paul reveals this reality in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6.
May we come to invite the Spirit to give us that heart of flesh and to shine his light into the darkness as an act of love, empowered by His Spirit.