December 5th, 2011 by Dale Fincher
I lifted my camera to the bud of a lilac hibiscus. As it waved eagerly in the breeze, I steadied the branch with my hand. Widening the aperture of the lens, I snapped the shot and captured the star-shape center hiding shyly in a cone of mauve-purple petals.
A professional photographer later commented on my photograph. “I like the use of light source from the lower left corner.” Light source? No, the sun was behind me on the right shining down on the flower. There was no light source on the lower left. I chuckled, “That is actually my hand blurred out of focus. The light you see is just a reflection on the hand that was steadying the branch.” He replied, “Appears to be a spiritual allegory.”
His imagination sent my mind into the Scripture. God often speaks of light.
In Psalm 119:105, the Psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” In verse 130, he says again, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”
The Word of God gives light and understanding, it illumines the way. It is a priceless gift to us. Yet we need to bear in mind that the Word of God is not spoken vacuously. One of the easy tendencies as an apologist defending God’s Word is the simple narrow-mindedness that can occur. I am referring to the tendency to have a better relationship with the Word of God than with God Himself It is a subtle tendency. It is easier to master the text and know the “truth” than it is to live up to the truth in a relational way and to face our own personal shortcomings. In fact, in my experience, I find that many hide behind their knowledge of the Bible. They point fingers at the errors of others (it can boost the pride), instead of being the kind of person that invites people to walk the good life with the Person who authored the Word. Evangelicals can talk much about how Christ is not a “religion but a relationship.” Yet, we need to keep it at the front of our minds that our daily walk is a friendship with a real God. God never told us to heed the light and miss the hand.
Yet at the same time, the plight of many believers is also the opposite. It is relating to God without knowing His Word. This can be as equally deceptive. How do we know what God is like or how to approach Him if not for the special way He has shown himself to us in the Scriptures? How can we see the hand without the light?
The Word of God gives light and understanding, but only in a particular context. For the Bible speaks less about the Bible being the light as it does about God being the light who uses the Bible as a way of talking about Himself and his grand design. God desires we know his Word and Himself. It is both propositional and relational.
John says in I John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” In Psalm 18:28, David states, “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.” Isaiah makes the proclamation, “…The LORD will be your everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19). The large context of the Scripture is that understanding, knowledge, direction, and light is accompanied by the Person of God who is actively moving, helping, guiding, and loving. We cannot divorce the Scripture from God’s active involvement in our lives. We cannot separate the light from the hand. Doing so puts us precariously close to practical deism on one side and practical neo-paganism on the other.
And so I return to my photograph of the hand holding the branch that resembled the light. The metaphor turned me to the pages of Scripture again to hear the voice of God. And it turns me to prayer as well, for He is a living, active God who is jealous for our allegiance.
May your prayers be whispered today to the living God whose light is personal and whose hand is illuminating.