Light Switch Theology: wisdom from a young pastor
September 5, 2008 § 3 Comments
Recently, our Executive Pastor and I admitted to one another that we hate being in the house, during ‘awake hours’ – in the dark. Each confessed that when we come home from work – when it is dark – the first thing we do is turn on lights. For me I can tell you that passing through the house I always leave a trail of light.
Katherine and our girls, on the other hand, have no problem with the dark. If Katherine is immersed in some project or the girls are on the computer, listening to music, or watching TV, as the day fades into night and darkness falls, they are content. For me that constitutes torture. The same goes for when we leave the house – I’m the one that puts lights on in anticipation of returning after dark.
Strangely, all these thoughts flooded back to me the other day after a completely unrelated event – a meeting with fellow pastors. One of the younger pastors, during a time of prayer, shared that it was nearing a year since his young brother had died of a rare illness. In relating the pain and rawness of dealing with death’s reality he said of his family, “We’re right where God wants us but it’s a difficult place.”
I loved the honesty and transparency of this young man – to admit how difficult it sometimes is to accept what God brings in our lives. This prompted me to write down what he said, word for word – it is a valuable statement that I want to internalize and embrace for myself.
For some reason it caused me to think of the lights, and it dawned on me that I share the same malady with other control-freaks like me. The fact is, we don’t like being in the dark because in the dark we aren’t in control – we can’t see everything that is going on.
We are deluded, of course. The idea of control is an illusion. We are no more in control of our lives than we are of how everyone else will drive on the interstate. I’ll never forget how it shocked the world was when fitness guru, Jim Fixx dropped dead of heart failure in 1984 at age 52, following his daily run. The illusion of control is a compelling one – but it really is only an illusion.
Katherine, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be in control – she just needs the light she needs. There is a peaceful reality to this. By not needing control, she is actually in control – of herself. Oh sure, I guess I could offer a thousand reasons why having most of the lights on is wise – but in the end, apart from a few security issues, the truth is that I just don’t like the dark.
This walking by faith and not by sight ‘thing’ (2 Corinthians 5:7) isn’t native to me. I love walking by faith when I can see where I’m going. Of course that takes the adventure out of the adventure and the faith out of the faith – which means that my real problem is with trusting God.
Fortunately the Gospel permits me to honestly admit that I prefer living with the light switch in the ‘on’ position, revealing that my faith is actually quite fragile – and it explains why it lacks such power. Yet even in this admission – and the reality it represents, the Gospel both admonishes me and then astonishes me, that even when life gets difficult, or any of a whole host of other less preferred ‘states,’ that regardless of where I am, or what life is doling out, I’m ‘right where God wants me.’
And that is Good News.