As a Girl Scout leader, I often took the girls on camping trips to the local Girl Scout campgrounds. A flashlight was always on the packing list, but it was more for emergencies than for general use. The girls wanted to turn them on as soon as they stepped outside the familiarity of the indoor lights. They would turn them on before their eyes had even had time to adjust, then shine the flashlights straight ahead of them as they talked to each other, shining the blinding lights in each others’ eyes. With the blinding light came the inevitability of not noticing a vine across the path or a dip in the dirt or some other potential hazard.
It seemed I had to teach the same lesson on nearly every camping trip: “Okay, everyone, let’s stand still as a group and turn off our flashlights. You might not be able to see well at first, but give your eyes time to adjust…look up and see what light is already in the sky, then look around and notice how what seems like a little bit of light actually does a really good job of illuminating most everything around you. And the more you let your eyes adjust, the more accustomed you get to the natural light you have.”
It’s a lesson I have to learn over and over again, too, because when I try to rely on what I think is the best source of light, I often choose wrong. I choose the most instant, convenient light that I can just switch on for quick brightness, and the result is often blinding. At the very least, it doesn’t reveal what natural light reveals. God is the source of light, and when I let Him illuminate as He intends, whatever is kept in the dark apparently doesn’t need to be lit in that moment and situation. I can trust Him. Some shadows are good, even beautiful, and they’re created by the light. I don’t have to strain my eyes, because He’s created them to adjust in natural light to see what is essential.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3-4)
I want to be light to others, but the best way I can do that is not to take control and create the best light I can; it’s simply yielding to God and leading people by and in His light.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
He knows what He’s doing.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)