“But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.””
See those blisters?
I got them one day working out in the garden. I was puzzled. Kerflummoxed. Downright dumbfounded.
Had I been stung?
Was I allergic to something?
Did I have shingles?
Had I contacted some sort of rare and strange disease of the West Indies?
A week went by. The blisters wept and stung and then dried and receded. I left Dr. Google alone and moved on with my life ignorant of the true nature of my odd wounds.
Our big annual open house in the garden was in full swing. I was rounding a corner with a guest when she pointed at a plant beside a path.
“Hey! A gas plant! Do you know something odd about this plant?”
Quick to share my knowledge, I nodded. “Yeah! If you hold a lighter or match close to the blossoms, the gas inside them pops!”
“Well, true. But I was thinking of something else,” she continued. “The seed pods are phototoxic. Not the flowers, just the seed pods. If you rub them against your skin and then expose your skin to sunlight – especially when it’s hot – they can cause blisters and burns.”
I’ve handled gas plants for at least ten years. I never knew that handling the seed pods and then exposing my skin to sunlight could cause such a harsh reaction!
But conditions have to be just right to get burned. You have to have exposed skin. The sun needs to be shining. You have to get close enough to the plant at the right time under the right circumstances.
It’s sorta like what happens when we are exposed to the truth in God’s Word.
There we are. Rubbing up against a secret habit or a dark little indulgence. And whammo! We read how we ought to be living. The Light of truth shines down on us.
And it burns…
It isn’t a happy feeling to come face to face with the knowledge that we’ve made a bad decision. We’ve hurt someone with our actions. We’ve fallen short in our conduct or our words or our actions.
And yet, if we never had limits placed on us, never had to back up and learn to apologize, never had to consider new ways to communicate or behave that were more gracious or more considerate, we would never grow our character or change to become more like Jesus, who was kind and considerate and strong and wise and pure and loving.
See, the sting of realizing that we have done something wrong, that nagging sense that we ought to set things right and humbly move in a different direction is actually healthy. It’s human, expected even, to make mistakes. We mess up. It’s what we do.
But that nudge in the right direction, the conviction that comes after reading how we ought to conduct our lives, even while it burns, is life giving.
My burns alerted me to a problem. The guest who shared her information was my dose of truth. I was then able to give appropriate warnings to a friend with whom I had shared seedlings of that gas plant with.
I will approach this plant with gloves and long sleeves in the future. I have a new healthy respect for it’s properties and have a plan for moving forward in new ways when handling it.
This is what God’s Word does. It makes us aware there is a problem. It gives us wise counsel and truth to help us to change our ways and avoid the problem in the future.
And it is only when our problems are exposed to the Light that we can take steps to correct them.
Awake, o sleeper.
Allow the Light to shine on you and illuminate even the parts of you that you aren’t proud of.
It may sting and burn to see the places that need to change. I get that.
But you will then be able to move forward into the Light with confidence, having exposed what is wrong to God’s healing hand.
Move further into the Light with me?
Father, it burns when we need to face our poor choices or habits and bring them into Your redeeming Light. Remind us that the sting of facing our sins humbly will allow us to bring our faults to You and have them healed and forgiven and dealt with openly and honestly. Thank You for the power of Your grace and forgiveness in our lives. Amen.