Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Look Directly into the Sun

CS Lewis wrote an essay I like called, “Meditations in a Toolshed.” Here’s a quote:

I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.  

Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.

Knowing God is like standing in that beam of light, totally immersed in the life-giving energy of the sun, where everything is made clear and bright. But many people aren’t inside that light, but only observe it from a distance. For them, God appears as a narrow shaft of dusty light while everything else remains dark and gloomy. It’s the perfect description of many Christians. Maybe at one point they stood in God’s light out of a simple need for Him – a humility to surrender, a sacrifice of their desires, a trust. And what they found was His amazing life-giving power. But now, they’ve stepped aside. God doesn’t force His light on anyone – we’re perfectly free to step back into the gloom if we choose. It’s less effort and requires little trust, but then we become disconnected from that life-source.  

So what do you have to do to stay in that light? Some time ago a man shared with me his struggle with shame and anger at the injustice of being falsely accused by coworkers. He had proof to argue his case, but he would hurt others in the process. He was trying to do the right thing by simply enduring the frustration, but a nagging feeling told him that God didn’t even care. At that moment, he was looking at the beam of light from the outside and feeling very dark inside. 

So I challenged him to go against his natural inclination. To embrace the situation he was in, not to resist it.  “Be logical.  Fact 1: God is just, isn’t He?  So choose to be totally at peace that He is fighting to defend you and stop thinking like a victim.  Fact 2: Give, and it will be given unto you, right? So give your best on your job, give kindness even to those who’ve mistreated you, give shamelessly, freely and with determination, because that will break the power of the devil on your job. Don’t worry about how people will react – just give, and give with a smile!”
He was crazy enough to actually do it! The first day was hard, but it got easier as the days went by. He was battling against his flesh, but also destroying the spirits of lies and greed in his workplace. The more he disciplined his emotions to behave in kindness and goodness in the face of injustice, the brighter God’s light shone on him. His was both in God’s light, and shining God’s light. As the sun can give and give and never run out, that’s how he chose to live each day. Before he knew it, evil couldn’t torment him anymore. The situation was still the same, but he was happy, energetic and full of peace. He could focus and work better than anyone in his office. A few weeks later, the entire case against him unraveled and he was trusted with a better position that he hadn’t even asked for.   

Our bodies, souls and spirits were made to look directly into God’s light, just like Adam and Eve. We become unhealthy when we aren’t looking straight into His presence, where the entire world around us is bright and glorious, and beauty and power is evident in every situation. Even unpleasant times become supernaturally illuminated. Even moments of dullness, shame, weariness, anger, grief, pain, loss, frustration and all other negative experiences can have that same light blast it all away. Choose to fearlessly live out God’s character this week, to be bathed in His light, to see everything clearly, and become completely untouchable to the devil. 

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give favor and glory, for no good thing will He withhold from the one who walks uprightly.  O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You. Psalm 84:11-12, MEV

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