Have you ever had one of those moments when you know something and no one else in the group does? You are almost chatting at the bit to get an opportunity to share it with someone, or perhaps you have been sworn to secrecy and cannot. Either way, it is almost impossible to contain yourself. The information you possess is almost too big to be contained. I think this is the way it is with what God gives us - it is almost too big for us to contain it! It leaves us feeling like we'd have to share it or we'd burst. I like the analogy of heading off to the market one day in search of a new oil burning lamp for the homestead. You have the anticipation of the journey - for you have a mission in mind. You have the moment of exploration - for there are many lamps from which to choose. You have the moment of choice - for just the right one has been selected. You have the moment of expectation - for you can imagine the light it will bring to your home. Then at last, you have the joy of experience - for the light shed illuminates like nothing else. So it is in discovery of the truths God has for our lives. His question is sincere - if we have such an experience in seeking, obtaining, and experiencing this light, why would we ever tuck it away for no one else to experience?
Jesus went on: “Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed? Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel? We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them; we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open. “Are you listening to this? Really listening? “Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.” (Mark 4:21-25 MSG)
Looking at this analogy of obtaining the lamp, let's break it down a little more:
- You have the anticipation of the journey - for you have a mission in mind. Anticipation is best understood as a type of "foretaste". There is some kind of hope which actually sets things in motion in your lives. We often don't know what it is we will discover as we spend time with Jesus, but we know from previous "tastes" of time in his presence, it is a good thing. What you may not realize is that the word "anticipation" is a noun of ACTION. To anticipate something doesn't mean we wait in inactivity for whatever it is we hope to received from our time with God - it means we enter into his presence with ACTION (not activity). There is a purpose - an intent - and it moves us.
- You have the moment of exploration - for there are many lamps from which to choose. This is a moment of examination - for some things worth having require a little determined examination to uncover. I have learned this as I have been exposed to a few antique shops in my recent travels. Not all shops put the "good finds" right out there in the open. You almost always have to dig through shelf after shelf, box after box, or hidden crannies to find it. I think God may give us these times of examining what he has for us because he wants to us to come to a place of determined commitment to "find".
- You have the moment of choice - for just the right one has been selected. The anticipation and exploration should lead us into a point of choice. Once we are intent in our search and purposeful in our exploration, we are at the point of often having to choose the truth we will hold onto. We are faced with many choices of "truth" in our lives - only one choice holds up to the test of time - the truth of God's word. Choosing involves consideration of the alternatives. God gives us each free will - the ability to choose. Whenever we are faced with choices, we consider the alternatives. Using our illustration of the lamp, we can choose one which is square and squat, or one which is tall and slender. One might fit the space better - while the other might just provide more light in the room. The choice is ours - choosing the one which "fits" our needs the best is oftentimes aided by the "nudges" of the one presenting us the options. God presents the options - we make the choice.
- You have the moment of expectation - for you can imagine the light it will bring to your home. As you begin to embrace truth, it begins to build an anticipated excitement within which we sometimes refer to as expectation. It is just a few days before Christmas and my grandsons have already been under my tree with a flashlight exploring the colorfully wrapped parcels in hopes of finding how many have their names on them. At about two weeks before Christmas, my youngest came over to me and asked, "Grandma, did Santa come to your house?" What I think he was really after was if Santa already hit my house, then he missed theirs - and that would be sorely disappointing for a five year old boy! I assured him his tree would soon be filled with all assortments of colorfully and expertly wrapped parcels, as well - Santa had not come to Grandma and GG's house. We had just done a little shopping on our own. He seemed happy with this explanation and hopeful of the promise of Christmas morning around his own tree. Anticipation builds around Christmas for the wee ones, doesn't it? Truth be told, it kind of does for us "older" ones, as well! As parcels will be unwrapped, realization of what you hoped for becomes real - the gift becomes yours. My grandsons have come to look forward to good gifts under Grandma's tree. Yep, there will be the "obligatory" socks and underwear, but they also know they will receive some special treats like their favorite toys, a shopping trip at Home Depot, and other items they much anticipate. It is good to know our heavenly Father is overjoyed with us anticipating his good gifts in just this same way - with eager anticipation and excited expectation.
- You have the joy of experience - for the light shed illuminates like nothing else. It all culminates in experience, doesn't it. When the light finally fills the room, darkness is dispelled. When darkness no longer taunts us, we are free to move like never before. My mom is legally blind - she knows what it is like to experience darkness in a different sense. One of her most frequent requests is for more light to dispel just a little of that darkness she sees. As much as possible, we try to keep the home light-filled and hazard-free. It is more than for her safety - it is for her enjoyment. God's hope for us is that we will come into both a place of being "light-filled" and living "hazard free", as a result. Just sayin!