“Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5.7-8 ESV).
My husband and I recently added a puppy to our family of five. Now that our kids are all potty trained, I finally relented to the extra duties involved with caring for a pet. Needless to say, our kids were ecstatic to meet our new family member, and he has become the mascot of our household.
Just like babies, puppies need to be potty trained. After months of accidents in the house, I decided that our little puppy was finally getting it. However, I wasn’t sure if he was being trained to potty outside or if we were being trained to constantly walk him. Either way, we have all learned to adjust to the changes of our growing family.
My husband usually walks him at night before we go to bed, and I usually walk him early in the morning before the sun rises. During both walks, we have to bring a flashlight or we can’t see in the dark surrounding us. I keep the light on the puppy’s path, so he can see where he is going, and so I can know when he’s finished and we can head back inside.
The flashlight is one of those outdoor camping lights that gives off a very bright beam. When pointed directly ahead, it can light up the entire path. I remember walking our puppy one morning in awe of how much light penetrated the darkness of our yard with the flashlight. But when I pointed the flashlight straight up into the dark sky, the light vanished—it was swallowed up by the black abyss. It was only effective when used in the forefront of where we walked.
As I stared at the shadowy depths of the sky where my light disappeared, the Holy Spirit whispered a powerfull truth to me. He said that many of us waste our lights trying to point them in the wrong direction. Instead of pointing our lights unapologetically where God has planted us, we aim them in places where we haven’t been called. And we wonder in despair why we are not effective at shining God’s light to the world.
Sometimes we are guided by a misconception that we have to penetrate a wide chasm with our lights in order for our ministries, lives and words to be meaningful. But that is just not true. Jesus told his disciples to look around them. The harvest is everywhere, but the workers are few (Matthew 9.37-38). God has placed us right where He needs us, and He will light our paths to where we need to go (Psalm 119.105). Pointing our lights in any other direction other than the one God is leading us would be a waste of our talents, time and energy.
So instead of feeling anxiety about trying to pierce a sea of unknown darkness, I can find satisfaction and purpose when I allow the Holy Spirit to spread His light through my life in the domain in which He has appointed me. I can share the hope I find in Jesus to those faces who cross my path and to those beautiful souls He has entrusted to my care. I have a lot of light to give, and I want to make sure every ounce of my God-given luminous intensity makes a difference.
“No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house” (Luke 11.33 NLT).