Faith: Stay close to the source
If Jesus connects us directly to the sun's ultimate power source (God), the closer we are in proximity to him, "the true light that gives light to every man" (John 1:9), the closer we are to God. Oftentimes in our Christian walk, we start to think, "I'm doing great – right on track with God", but where is Jesus? Sometimes it seems he plays second (or third) fiddle – he's the one for the sick and the blind and the lepers, right? Oh, how arrogant we can become.
In his book The Sun: A biography, astronomer and BBC science journalist David Whitehouse writes:
"We have had the Renaissance, the scientific and industrial revolutions. With our electric lights, televisions and fires, we think we do not rely on the sun as much as we did generations ago. The mighty sun has been removed from its prime position in our lives by our arrogance and by our indifference. But... it will not be too long before the sun once again reminds us that we are here because of it. There will come a time, perhaps within our lifetimes, when the sun will no longer be our friend."
Yikes, them Revelation-like words.
If Jesus promises to return and judge the whole world by his yardstick, we must surely stay connected to him: to bow and confess that he is Lord daily. This means dedicating each and every day to walking His way, and humbly accepting our duties as a student, follower and servant of Christ. We know that he has not left us alone in his absence, nor assigned an impossible mission: he has given us his Spirit, his Word and his Church to help us on our way.
When we step outside his orbit and the light in our lives starts to dim, we are sometimes none the wiser until something goes askew. We start to wonder, like the Israelites in the desert, why things are going so awfully wrong; why we feel frustrated and angry and irritable and anxious. And then we desperately scramble to find the light switch, which was there waiting to be flicked on all along.
What gets us off track? It's really very easy to see: anything that takes the place of Jesus in our lives, that becomes greater than God in priority. Life is busy, don't you see? In my daily devotional, Sarah Young writes for November 1:
"When you realise that your mind has wandered away from God, don't be alarmed or surprised. You live in a world that has been rigged to distract you. Each time you plow your way through the massive distractions to communicate with God, you achieve a victory. Rejoice in these tiny triumphs, and they will increasingly light up your days."
Thank God for his grace, patience and mercy. When our To Do lists threaten to usurp his wishes; when our passions turn into idols; when our pleasures turn into sin; when our ways of living depart from his righteous path, he finds a way to bring us back into the light, to remind us of our saviour Christ (1Peter 2:9). But how silly we are to pursue that which is superficial or unnecessary or dead sinful when there is such delight to be found when we walk with Christ.
You can tell when someone is close to the source: their eyes sparkle, they display joy and a peaceful countenance even amidst trouble, they leave love in their wake like Tinkerbell dust. You want to be around them because they bring comfort and hope: you are seeing Jesus in their person. There is a recognisable disposition shift; they have left The Detestable Self behind. They are producing the fruit of the Spirit because they have been pruned.
This is no easy feet; no trick-or-treat. It requires wisdom and discernment and humility. Jesus displayed these attributes very early. Those of us who have much to cast off – or who desperately hold on for some reason – will take more time. Working against us is a culture that clamours for our attention; that places value on things that God does not; that places all around us stumbling blocks. We should not be impatient but afford everyone the same gift of grace that was given to us on the Cross. We're all on a journey, all carry a cross.
"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful," said Jesus (John 15:2). The very least we can do, in gratitude (not in guilt!), is to aim to do the same; to prune back those things in our lives (whether good or bad) that don't align with God's wishes and commands (importantly, that we honour him above all else and love our neighbour too). In turn, we might also be a light unto the world, basking in his orbit and emitting his rays all our days. No matter how big or the small the sacrifice, or challenging the task, righteousness is its own reward. "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ." (Romans 8:1)
Girl With a Satchel