I’ve been reading a book titled ‘Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life’ by Henri Nouwen. This book has been helpful for me regarding learning to look deeper at the seemingly inconsequential or mundane occurrences of daily life. Nouwen’s emphasis in the book is that the Lord is always speaking through the things we might be tempted to overlook. Taking time to notice His promptings and communication in the little things throughout our day truly redeems how we view the simplest details of daily life. This renewed awareness allowed me to receive a life saving encouragement from the Lord through three blown light bulbs. Let me explain…
I recently had the privilege of spending a couple of weeks at a cottage in the wilderness that a dear couple provided for me. My time there was truly a gift. After being out and about one afternoon, I returned to the cabin as the sun was setting. When I walked in, I flipped the light switch to turn the kitchen light on. Just then, I heard a ‘pop’ and saw a small flash. As you might have guessed, one of the bulbs in the kitchen light fixture burned out. No big deal, right? That’s what I thought too. After all, light bulbs burn out from time to time.
The following day, I returned to the cabin around the same time. Since it was getting dark, I naturally flipped the light switch on to illuminate the room. Just then, I heard a pop and saw a small flash. That got my attention. A second bulb had just burned out. Bulbs don’t burn out everyday, but this was the second time in two days. Interesting. Still, I figured it was a simple coincidence.
On the third day, I returned to the cabin around the same time. Since it was dark in the house, I flipped the light switch. Again, I heard a pop and saw a small flash. Yes, a third bulb had just burned out! The kitchen light was now becoming dim because three bulbs had already burned out. This was not normal. After sharing this with a friend, she reminded me that the Lord might be trying to speak through the blown light bulbs incident. Instantly, I was reminded of the book that I had been reading. I was clueless to the hidden lightbulb message, however, so I decided to ask the Lord about it. Almost immediately, I sensed Him speaking to my heart. These certain facts became apparent to me:
Electricity is very real and powerful, but mostly unseen.
Electricity begins to flow unimpeded when a switch is flipped and that which has been blocking its flow is opened up.
The light bulb is a physical apparatus that was created to house the unseen power of electricity through contact with an element inside the lightbulb.
If the element inside the lightbulb is old, it will break when it comes into contact with the authentic power of electricity.
After becoming aware of these facts, I clearly sensed the Lord connecting the dots for me. What unfolded in the next few seconds in my spirit is turning out to be one of the greatest relational lessons in life that I have yet learned.
The unseen power of electricity represents the life of Christ that dwells inside of us.
The substance of His life is pure love.
He has been removing that which has been blocking the flow of this indwelling love by flipping my ‘switch’, so to speak, so my deposit of love can dwell inside of a ‘lightbulb’.
The lightbulb represents specific relationships that I have / had.
A New Testament community (church) is made up of a collection of intimate relationships.
On the surface, lightbulbs (relationships) look normal until power (love) is transmitted to them.
Love exposes and breaks that which is old. It can only illuminate that which is new. If the bulb is old (relationships built on an old covenant paradigm), it will pop (burnout) when it comes into contact with the unseen power of pure love (Christ).
I couldn’t believe the implications of what I was being shown. The condemnation I previously felt regarding old and present relational breakdowns began to be soothed over immediately. Old lightbulbs cannot be repaired, they must be replaced. It is His love in me that is exposing the old.
In the same way, the Lord will not fix relationships built on old paradigms. Like old lightbulbs, love (electricity) will simply expose and break those internal paradigms. Darkness will be the result until the old paradigms can be replaced by the new. Divine love is the new paradigm for relationships built in and through Christ.
Relationships built on the new are NOT like relationships built on the old. True restoration in relationships only occur when the new replaces the old. Until then, He will sustain us in our dark rooms until illumination is able to happen.
After I realized this during my stay in the cabin, no more lightbulbs burned out during my time there. About one week after returning home, however, the light in my bedroom burned out. When it happened, the room was totally dark. I had no idea where the spare bulbs were, so I restfully endured a dark room for a day until my wife returned from being out of town.
When she returned, she promptly and quite easily went to the place where the spare bulbs were. She replaced the bulb that had burned out, and she also proceeded to replace the three other bulbs in the light fixture that I cannot ever remember working before. Not only was the old bulb replaced, three new bulbs were added as well. In the end, there was more light in our room than we had before the original bulb burned out! Like Christ, she did what I couldn’t do, and the light was greater in the end than it was in the beginning.
A Lesson For Lovers
Lovers are those who are consumed by love. If you’re not sure if you are a lover, this post is probably not for you. You can simply file it away for later. If you deeply resonate with the term lover, however, let this be an encouragement to you. Love causes darkness before it causes light. It is your love that is breaking old bulbs. Keep the switch on and the love flowing, even when the old bulbs burn out. I promise someone is in the process of changing the bulb. In the end, not only will you have received back those relationships that were lost, many more will be added to you.
“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God seperated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night…” (Genesis 1:3-5, NASB)
“And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5, NASB)