The other day I was sitting on my back porch. On my porch is a bird bath with a small solar-powered fountain. The fountain only works when the sun is directly on it and, since that day was a clear day, the fountain was operating at full steam. As I was sitting enjoying the day a brief passing cloud blocked the direct sunlight and the fountain came to a halt. No light, no power.
The apostle John records in his gospel several “I am” statements of Jesus – I am the bread of life; I am the resurrection and the life; I am the way, the truth, and the life; and so on. One of those “I am” statements is, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus goes on to say, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John would later write three letters to Christians that are included in our New Testament. He borrows that “light” imagery of Jesus and encourages believers to “walk in the light."
There are several nuances to this “light” imagery. Light gives direction as it illuminates our path. Light represents righteous living as opposed to the unrighteousness of darkness. Light relieves fear when darkness creates it. Perhaps another nuance is that light gives energy; light empowers us.
It’s not uncommon for me at times to feel spiritually lethargic. Sometimes I’m just not as loving as I should be. Sometimes I’m more susceptible to temptation. Sometimes I just don’t feel the joy of salvation like I should feel. Sometimes I’m not as patient, not as kind, not as selfless. And the list goes on. Sometimes the fountain is just not operating at full steam. Maybe sometimes you feel the same way.
Could it be that our experience is like my solar-powered fountain? Clouds of doubt. Clouds of despair. Clouds of fear. Clouds of sin. Clouds of isolation. These clouds obscure the “light of the world” and all of a sudden we are sputtering instead of bubbling. No light, no power.
That may be why John is so concerned that we walk in the light. He knows that we will only live into the life God has created us for when we are bathed in light. The light of God’s love. The light of God’s mercy and forgiveness. The light of God’s word. The light of Christian community. The light of Jesus himself. All these sources of light empower us and energize us to bubble over with things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Because where there is light there is power.
We’re just like my fountain. We too are solar-powered.