Neither Required nor Demanded

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

  • 1 John 1:5-7

“You do not have to sit outside in the dark.  If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is required.  The stars neither require it nor demand it.”

  • Annie Dillard, (as quoted by Charles R. Swindoll that follows)

“A lot of things in life are like that, aren’t they?  We have to pay a price if we hope to enjoy the benefits, the beauty, the splendor.  But the source is there, silently awaiting our discovery.  Without shouting at us or shaming us, it patiently waits.”

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch (devotion for week 25, Tuesday)

Thinking of the Annie Dillard quote, as quoted by Charles Swindoll, I remember a starry night in 1986.  I had taken my family on a three-week trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico.  We were all into cub scouting.  My wife and I attended five-day courses that were offered at the camp and the other two weeks were used driving there and back and visiting relatives.  Tomorrow, I plan to write about an unexpected discovery at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado on our way back.

One night at Philmont, while we were living in a tent city, they loaded all the ten-year-old boys into buses along with their fathers for a night under the stars, way up in the mountains.  We each pitched a two-man puptent.  We built a fire and cooked supper.  As the sun went down behind the mountains, we sang songs and told campfire stories.  Then the boys went to bed and the fathers created a duty roster.  You see, there had been many bear attacks over the previous year.  We each had an hour of patrol duty.  I think mine was from 1:00-2:00am.  I remember that I had about as much sleep before the patrol as I did afterwards.

I was awakened by the guy who had the previous hour, but before he went to his tent, he pointed to the sky.  He asked, “Do you know that constellation?”  I shook my head.  I had to learn many constellations in my boy scout days, but I could barely remember a few as an adult.  He said, “That’s Pleiades.  How many stars do you see?”  I counted seven.  He said, “I view the stars through my telescope all the time.  With the light pollution from cities and towns, it is hard to find a spot where you can see more than a blob in the sky when you look at the sisters, and that is with a basic telescope.  And here, in this high elevation, far from any civilization, you can see all Seven Sisters with the naked eye.  Wow!!”  We marveled for a moment about how clean, crisp, and dry the air was.

During my patrol, I spotted something looking back at me.  It was at that moment that I thought of how silly this patrol was.  All I had for a weapon was a flashlight and that flashlight caught a pair of eyes looking back at me from a safe distance.  What was I supposed to do?  We could wake everyone up and have them make noise and hope that whatever animal it was would be frightened and go away.  Suddenly, the nice campout with my son became more serious, but the animal must have been frightened of the flashlight in his face.  He or she got no closer.

Rev. Swindoll went on in his devotion to give a couple of examples of things that neither require our attention nor demand it.  The first was a dusty piano that contained within it the melodies of the masters, awaiting well-trained hands to place fingers on the keys.  That one made sense.

His second example was of children playing in the yard.  At that moment, the children did not need you to acclaim them or hover over them.  From that aspect, I can agree about neither requiring nor demanding, but having lived a life of never get that “job well done” there is the nagging ‘require and demand’ in my heart.  But even that feeling is fading.  I just want a hug from Jesus someday.

But Rev. Swindoll finally gets to his point that God loves us.  His love is unconditional.  He loves us whether we pay attention to Him or not.  He does not require nor demand that attention.  But to gain the heavenly reward, at some point we must “see the light.”

And it is a powerful concept in what had been written by both Rev. Swindoll and Annie Dillard.  To see the light, we must experience the darkness.  We must realize that we need the light.  God is light.  He is there, not demanding nor requiring, but He is patiently waiting for us to seek the light.

These days the world has so much light, can anyone see the Light?  But the light of the world is a false light.  For looking at the stars, it is the streetlights and such.  For seeing our sin, the false light is the glitter of worldly attractions.  But it takes getting to a point in our lives where we are in the middle of nowhere, armed with only a flashlight, and we see danger looking back at us.  Then, our only hope is to pray.

And we need to know that God is there, waiting.

Do you need a moment in the darkness to see the light that you cannot see?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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