This morning I was walking backwards up a hill near my house. It was 5:45 am and still dark…except for the big bright full moon. What a clever moon! Last week he was just a crescent, rising and shining above the stained glass windows during Sounds of Silence (Do You See What I See? Echoes of Pleasure).
I wouldn’t have noticed the moon had I not been walking backwards. Good thing my hamstrings are tight and sore; they need the release that only backwards-walking brings! But then a streetlight popped into view. I stopped looking on the moon — he was farther back, higher up, not as demanding or glaring. The streetlight insisted on my attention, like a cranky baby or yowling cat.
“You are manmade and useful but not very pretty,” I said to the streetlight. “Plus I can’t rely on you. A sudden wind or strong rainstorm could take you out in an instant. So could a power surge, or even a little girl with a rock. But the moon! Untouchable and magnificent, reflecting the sun’s light. He may be further back, quieter, not as demanding…but he is more beautiful, commanding, and powerful. He is more real.”
A few steps later, the streetlight got smaller. The moon didn’t change! He was just as big and beautiful as before. Then the streetlight disappeared behind a clump of evergreen trees. Again the moon didn’t change. He grew bigger and brighter and even more beautiful.
I think the moon likes being admired. I know I’d rather admire the moon than squint at a streetlight.
What is a glaring, manmade, demanding streetlight in your life?
Something in your life is the streetlight. Maybe it’s the world in general: loud, busy, demanding, insistent, cranky and babyish. Maybe it’s a particular person at work, in your family, in your community or school. Maybe it’s an emotional or physical health issue, difficult diagnosis, or humiliating failure. Maybe you’re grieving the loss of someone you love — a spouse, child, or even a dear dog or cat — and you can’t seem to recover.
Sometimes streetlights are installed by family members. Maybe someone made you feel stupid, unworthy, not good enough, unlovable. Sometimes streetlights are installed by spouses or partners who cheat, lie, steal, disappoint, break your heart. Sometimes streetlights are created by your own body; you’re coping with cancer, chronic fatigue, a health problem that won’t go away.
And sometimes we think God puts streetlights in our way. “Why is God doing this to us?” someone asked me recently. “My husband is broken, a shell of a man. Everything he worked so hard for is gone. Why is God making us suffer this way?”
Finding your way home
Streetlights are everywhere (unless, of course, you live in the Wadi Rum in Jordan, the Maasai Mara in Kenya, or the Thar Desert in India). Streetlights are often useful! For example, my broken shoulder and two surgeries were painful, but led me to write How Jesus Might Pray for Healing After Surgery. My schizophrenic mother, absent father, childhood in foster homes, tough three-year stint in Africa, estranged sister, and infertility all brought me here. To you. And I’m grateful.
See those streetlights for what they are: unavoidable, part of this world, even useful. But don’t allow yourself to be distracted or consumed by them. They are manmade, unreliable, demanding, harsh, cranky and loud. If you let them, they’ll steal your soul.
How do you find your way home? It depends on you and your situation. Think about it. Pray about it. Talk about it with someone you trust. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see past the streetlights in your life. Talk to Jesus about finding your way back where you belong.
This morning I walked backwards all the way home. I kept my eyes fixed on the moon and let the streetlights, houses, cars and potholes go by. Everything came and went; the moon was the only thing that stayed constant.
Hold on to the only things that stay constant: God’s truth, the Holy Spirit’s power, and Jesus Christ’s love. Hold everything else lightly — savor the good and release the bad — for they will soon pass.
With His love,
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