Recently I was reading about the history of street lights. Brother Don, isn’t that kinda strange? Maybe, but just imagine the streets of your town with no lights. None. Faint candles in an occasional window, but no lights on the street. The lamps on the carriages barely flicker farther ahead than the horse. But no lights at the curb. You dare not walk down the street after dark. Scary.
But then the gas lantern changed all that. Posts were erected every half block or so with a gas lantern perched on top. Just at dusk a squad of eager lamp lighters would hurry from one to the next, hoist a flame to the top, turn on the gas, and vóila, the street below came alive. You could read the address of some of the houses from the curb, intentionally miss most of the puddles; crime rates dropped.
A good analogy of the church, I reckon. Much of our culture lies in darkness. God has commissioned a bunch of eager lamp lighters to move down our streets leaving behind a warm glow of light everywhere they go.
Today I spent part of a day at the hospital with a friend. My barber, Jeb. He’s cut my hair pretty much every month or so for the last dozen years. We were away last week and returned to learn that he had been rushed to surgery for a triple by-pass. After a few days they had brought him back to our little local hospital for a couple of weeks of convalescence. He pulled up his shirt and showed off his incision, the entire length of his rib-cage. Impressive.I slid a chair up beside his bed and asked him to tell me his story. I knew part of it but not all. I knew he had grown up in church, strayed from it in his youth, lived through a stormy marriage/divorce and had four kids. He spoke proudly of three of them and I asked him about the fourth. His face changed and I apologized for bringing up what was obviously a painful chapter in his life.
No, he wanted me to know. Fifteen years ago his beautiful young adult daughter was staying with friends when two demented robbers broke into the house and shot her in the throat with a shotgun. Jeb was in the courtroom when they were sentenced…the one who pulled the trigger was given two life sentences without the possibility of parole. Jeb told me of the hatred he still harbored – after fifteen years – the desire for revenge.
I wish I could tell you Jeb got past the anger today. That God miraculously gave him the power to forgive. That wouldn’t be true. But I did see a faint light go on. I did see a bit of darkness lift. I did see the lantern flicker. And I believe that the way ahead will be lighter as the Son arises full orb in his life.
By Don Jacobsen