Little Light

“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…”

It’s funny how that tune still runs so easily through my mind decades after learning it.  It’s also funny how, as a girl, I envisioned a little yellow candle, and a basket, and the devil trying to “blow it out” every time I sang it.  I knew the actions and liked to sing, so it was a comfortable part of my repertoire.

But, now, it’s like an anthem to come and die.

If the Light in me shines brightly, I am welcoming the forces of darkness to come and throttle me (and not, likely, with a wicker basket).  In proclaiming my allegiance to the Father of Lights, I am fastening my name to part of His stellar constellation, and I am no longer hidden, I’m out there, exposed and raw, flickering with the fire of the Spirit.

All of a sudden, my life is being lived ‘out loud’; all of a sudden, I present a problem to the enemy.

My heart is aligned with the one, true God, but there is still a struggle with my flesh that not only likes the safety of conformity, but has been conditioned to desire ‘falling in line’ with the crowd since walking through that Kindergarten door.  And, something about shining in the darkness is just so bold and uncomfortable to my flesh; it attracts attention and telescopes.  It means not hiding from the world, from its opinions and prejudices, it means welcoming conflict and misunderstanding, and sometimes it means sticking out like a sore thumb (which is my increasing reality).

But this desire to move out of the shadows is good, because it means that Jesus is stronger in me; I’d rather risk life with Son than linger under baskets.

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Shine Like Stars

After years of dreaming about holding a “Family Camp” in our area, and finally collecting enough brave friends to take the plunge, 67 of us pulled off our first ever 3-day camp.

It was better than I had imagined it would be.

For years my husband and I have been longing to participate in a camp experience that included the parents and the children, but was more than just ‘tenting’.  However, there was nothing remotely local to fill this desire.

One night, back in the winter, we took out a notebook and started to sketch out some ideas.  (The ideas are always the fun part, because they take no commitment!)  But, once we started talking about it, we realized why these things don’t just happen… it takes a lot of work and resources to get lift off.

But, we had friends who were in on the dream too; and with so many hands on deck this thing was ready to fly.

At the camp, we lived in a little ‘neighborhood’ of cabins, our front porches turned in to a central area where the kids played tetherball and blew bubbles together.  We watched teenage young men horse around with wee ones, and gaggles of girls laugh as they walked together, and even more boys play pick-up soccer with their dads and sisters.  We sat on the decks and chatted at all hours; it was old-fashioned and perfect.

We sang songs to Jesus and heard stories about his love.  We ate together and played hard.  We endured the chaos of a noisy dining hall and the inconvenience of rain.  We got lots of bug bites and poor sleeps, but we enjoyed the campfires and the early morning pick-up soccer games covered in dew.

It was especially poignant to see the fathers able to spend lots of time with their children playing and talking, building in the sand, boating and eating, and praying and worshiping in the context of a community of other like-minded hearts.

***

A preacher recently pointed out that the Apostles presented one of the big benefits of becoming a Christian was ‘joining the body’ in this life i.e. being part of the deep-love-community of Christ.  I confess, I have often thought of this as more of a trial than a benefit (all these people who I drive crazy, and who drive me crazy too – yikes!).

Yet, I have had an unquenchable hunger for this kind of broader connectivity; though have not found it in well-meaning programs or religious activity.  This gospel kind of love-life is up close and personal, it’s organic and real and even messy and it can’t be tidily tucked into a church pew.  This kind of life, I have found in my North American pocket of the world, is not easy to do.

As much as I desire closeness, I often feel more comfortable with distance and privacy and looking good from far off.

Yet, I saw this love in action this week, this profound ‘body life’, as fellow believers looked out for the needs of others (sharing toothpaste with the family that forgot theirs –ahem), children helped with the workload, and we got to experience each other at the ugly times of day (early morning puffy eyes!) and at the weary times of exhaustion as well.

And that great-big awesome fellowship extravaganza lit a fresh spark of hope, showing me that it is possible.

Love is bigger than our isolation and it will not let us be satisfied in our tidy pockets of comfort; we were made for faith-life together, that often looks like a mess and feels like sand in your sleeping bag, but is actually the stuff of heart-knit and passion-life.

I believe there’s more to come and it’s bigger and better than we ever imagined; it’s more than just a camp experience, it’s meant to be every day.

And I believe that Jesus is taking us there.

Heavy Rain

Deuteronomy 28 is amazing; it’s about as awesome as Deuteronomy 27 is terrifying.  Check this out:

“If you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God…  The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.”

In John chapter 3 we read that “[God] gives the Spirit without measure.”

And yet, how often am I satisfied with scraps from the table of pietistic religiosity and the anemic fruit of moral effort?  How readily have I been satisfied with a good parking spot when all along God has desired to bless all the work of my hands?

And yet, what is required to receive this overflowing abundance is all of me: surrendered in obedience.

 “…the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”  (John 3:19-21)

It occurred to me that “wicked things” can also be religious work done in my own effort; strategic plans for good and upright attempts to live well in my own strength are still “the work of darkness” (the evil of pride and self-sufficiency).

Whatever I do that has not been “carried out in God” is not a work of the light.

This surrender to the Light is daily, always-kind-of-stuff, like breathing… when living life in the Spirit, it’s really non-negotiable. Dwelling and abiding in Christ (hearing and obeying God’s voice) opens the treasury of heaven above me: and I begin to hear the rumble of heavy rain in the distance.