Tonight, for my son’s bedtime book, he chose one with a glow-in-the-dark pumpkin. It was cutesy, found as an impulse buy last Halloween at the checkout of a Lifeway Christian bookstore. I figured it had something redeeming about it, but to my recollection I had not read it before. I was quite surprised when we began to read that there were bible verses on each page, corresponding to an adorable rhyme explaining how we are like the pumpkins and God cleans us out and makes us new. In shock that this little book held such a valuable lesson about sin and salvation, I continued to think about it after I turned out the kid’s lights and sent them off to dreamland. The final verse was from Ephesians 5:8-14, a shortened version of the following… with a delightful picture of the giant smiling pumpkin, now cleaned out, receiving its candle to light up the darkness:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore, it is said:
Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead,
and the Messiah will shine on you.
I found several things interesting about these verses, and armed with a fresh pumpkin-y visual, I pondered them.
1. So once the pumpkin is opened up (ouch is what comes to mind if I am the pumpkin), then it is cleaned out and the “sin” is removed. God’s “cleaning us up” is seldom painless.
2. It doesn’t get the face carved into it until it goes through the clean-up. Our Creator’s image cannot be reflected on us if we are holding on to the slimy sin-guts. Or grosser, if we are spilling out those guts through our mouth…
3. It never stays hollow. The whole point when carving a pumpkin is to eventually get that thing lit.
4. The reason for the clean-up, the carving, the light… it’s not for the pumpkin’s sake. It is all to display the handywork of the Creator.
5. The pumpkin is silent (would get a bit creepy if it wasn’t, lol). The pumpkin now cleaned and lit, does not call out other pumpkins on their mess. If it is doing its job, remaining lit, it can silently impact the darkness. Things are exposed, and they become clear.
So now the questions. Where am I? Am I allowing the painful removal of my sin-guts that once filled my core? Or am I terrified to undergo such pain, and I stop the process there?
Do I believe God’s promises that I will be made new, or am I holding out on total clean-up because I fear that being hollowed out will leave me feeling, well, hollow?
Am I stuck at the cleaned-out stage? Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to carve and make an image suitable to bring glory to our Lord? Or am I trying to make an image myself – freaky if pumpkins could self-carve! Am I comparing my carved image to the other displays, instead of trusting in the one who sees purpose in making the image best suited to my pumpkin-y shape?
Is my pumpkin-head self, going around pointing at other pumpkins and yelling at them? Is my silent light shining in the darkness? Or am I forgetting whose light is filling me, and I am trying to explain the darkness away and instead start piling other gunk into my hollowed self, surely dimming if not extinguishing my light and sole purpose for being carved?
Psalm 46:10 says, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The stillest light shines the brightest. Now stop wobbling andgo shine forth His glory!
The Heavy Lifting
““The Gershonites by family and clan will serve by carrying heavy loads: the curtains of the Sanctuary and the Tent of Meeting; the covering of the Tent and the outer covering of dolphin skins; the screens for the entrance to the Tent; the cords; and all the equipment used in its ministries. The Gershonites have the job of doing the work connected with these things. All their work of lifting and carrying and moving is to be done under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. Assign them specifically what they are to carry. This is the work of the Gershonite clans at the Tent of Meeting. Ithamar son of Aaron the priest is to supervise their work.”
Numbers 4:24-28 MSG
The Gershon family gets the heavy lifting. They carry the important stuff around. They don’t get the glamorous or prestigious bit. But they do get recorded for all history to see right here in God’s Word! Others may think they have it tough - God Himself acknowledges the Gershonites are doing the heavy lifting. So what’s the point for you today?
God knows what you are dealing with - right now! He knows when you are going through the tough stuff and he acknowledges it is hard! Maybe there’s something too here - something about how some of us DO have the tougher “ask”. Some people DO get the heavier lifting. There’s no answer why, just the acknowledge meant that it is real, and God does know.
So today - you there - whatever you are going through, whether you feel like it’s not far that you get the hard stuff, or if you feel like nobody knows what you have to face - either way, take peace in knowing He sees, He knows, and He has a reason for where you are and what you are having to carry today.
Fully Rely on God
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
What does it mean to rely on God completely? Well, I know what it doesn’t mean – relying on anything else. In math terms, anything other than 100% is defined as not complete. In other words, it puts the question of our coping mechanisms out to pasture. Meaning? No eating our feelings, going on a shopping spree of distraction, drinking until it feels better, giving that person a peace of your mind, watching a little porn to get in the mood, having longer than necessary talks with that coworker because they make you feel wanted, watching that guilty pleasure tv show to escape, actually escaping/running away to another location, exercising manically to make the hurt stop, playing the blame game, smoking down to get calm, being controlling of your kids because you can’t deal with your spouse, pushing your fingers into your eyes – or self-harm of choice, shouting and screaming to get your authority back, putting others down so you can feel good again, drowning out your problems with super loud music, withdrawing and not speaking to anyone, and the list could continue. Yes, I know that there are varying degrees of “coping”, and don’t get on the condemnation train- just because it’s not your particular branddoesn’t change the point. Any time we replace our reliance on God with anything, we are choosing to put road blocks on our own path to Christ. It is our pride shouting, “I know how I can handle this, I’ll just ______ to make it through”. And we all know the pride and fall thing… but a new found visual is that it’s not our pride that we trip over, it is what our pride told us to stick in the road.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Back to those percentages… the point is not that we will evolve to a place that we never see less than 100%, but instead to submit it to God when we don’t.
It is unrealistic to suggest that our lives won’t have difficulties outside of our control. Make the decision today to acknowledge when you feel weighed down, doubled-over, or hunched to one side. Don’t pretend you don’t need to lean, but just be clear about on whom you should be leaning! Cry out to God – Abba Father! And in return, Jesus Christ himself will stand guard of your heart and mind with the unexplainable peace of our Lord.
what is "spark"?
Its a small thing - like the flash on a spark plug that hopefully ignites something bigger to propel you forward.