This Little Light

flameIt was my sophomore year in college when a friend and I took an overnighter to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Virtually penniless, we slept in his car that frigid-cold January night, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” cycling through the dashboard’s 8-track player on a continuous loop.

If you’ve ever been to this, the world’s longest known cave system, you well know “the moment.” Descending a few hundred feet into the earth, hikers enter a large underground “room.” There the park ranger urges all to close their eyes while he extinguishes his lantern. Opening their eyes again, they find themselves in complete and utter darkness. It is a feeling like no other, as though consumed by something worse than nothingness; the uneasiness is assuaged only by the belief that the guide knows what he’s doing and that the palpable blackness will very soon end. The ranger then flicks his lighter, and, almost miraculously, its tiny wisp of flame illumines the entire cavernous space, much to the relief of all now reassured in its broad glow.

It is in the darkest recesses of our sightless soul that the Spirit of God reveals the Son of God. When Peter confessed to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” his Lord blessed him and assured him, “this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:16, 17). To the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul likewise wrote, “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Yes, it is the Spirit of God who lights the flame, sparking new life—the life of Christ—in us.

So we ask ourselves: What was it like when the Spirit illumined my life for the first time? How has the light of His presence transformed me since then? I think you will recall Him fondly and praise Him gratefully. And in that warmth, perhaps today we will carry the fire burning within us to others still longing to see the light of Christ.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. (Isaiah 9:2)

Preparing a Place

cleaningWhen we’re expecting company, we all chip in and prepare the place, don’t we? Of course, our clean-up mirrors the occasion, from a general “straightening up” for the close friend stopping by for coffee to a full-fledged, top-to-bottom, spit-polish cleaning for holidays with family. (OK, ixnay on the spit part.)

As God revealed Himself to His people, they painstakingly prepared a tent of worship, a place where He would dwell in their midst. Then upon completion, “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle”1 so not even Moses could enter it. Years later when Israel had become a nation, the people built a temple for God, and again, the priests could not perform their service, “for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.”2

Neither tent nor temple was close enough to us for God, however, nor were the sacrifices offered there sufficient for righting our wrongs. Instead, God would come and live as one of us, sharing our experience, as prophesied through King David and quoted in the letter to the Hebrews: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.’”3 God himself prepared a place for His Son to live and love among us; He prepared a physical body for His Spirit to inhabit. And so we have the Christmas story, the angel declaring, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”4 God the Father had sent God the Spirit to prepare a place for God the Son.

The story does not end with Jesus’ incarnation, nor, for that matter, His ascension. For Jesus rose with a mission now familiar to us: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”5

Our salvation is entirely the initiative of God. He prepared a place for His Son to live for a time among us, and His Son prepares now a place for us to live forever with Himself. What is this place like? Indescribable. No eye has seen it; no mind has conceived it. But this we do know: it has been painstakingly prepared for us by the One who is faithful to His promises.

Lord Jesus, live in my innermost being and prepare me for the place you have prepared for me. Send your Spirit to live in me today, that I would live with you forever. Amen.

1 Exodus 40:35
2 2 Chronicles 5:14
3 Hebrews 10:5-7
4 Matthew 1:20, 21
5 John 14:2, 3

A Moses Moment

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”1—Moses

Well said, Moses, and thank you. Thank you for sharing the purest of perspectives. Thank you for bringing us back to basics. Thank you for voicing the clearest of confessions: “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

pauseWe all need these Moses moments, don’t we? Our world, even our tiny sliver of it, is incomprehensibly bigger than we are and far beyond our ability to control, no matter how desperately we try. Difficult people can discourage us; onerous tasks can overwhelm us. Relationships can unravel, and health fades away. It is in these times especially that we can do no better than to “press pause” on this fleeting, finite world and take the time to consider anew the Eternal One who sits sovereign over all things.

Yet the wonder of God is not limited to His boundless power, rather His power abounds to us in limitless love. It was true for Moses, for “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”2 It is true for us, as well, for the Son of God has a name for all who believe in Him—He likewise calls us “friends.”3

So take a Moses moment, press pause, and consider: Only God knows eternity. Only God owns eternity. Only God rules eternity. And He loves us as His friends forever.

1 Psalm 90:2 (ESV)
2 Exodus 33:11
3 John 15:15