On Stormy Weather and Dead Batteries
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. - Psalm 119:105
It’s an all too familiar scenario. The storm clouds roll in, the wind begins to howl, and the echoes of thunder become closer with each flash of lightning. These quick storms, so typical of late spring and early summer, often catch us off guard and leave us in a hurry to secure the grounds and find shelter. At my house, this usually means clearing the backyard of loose toys, pulling the patio seat covers, and covering the sandbox. It means grabbing my smartphone or turning on the news for a quick radar check. And it means finding the flashlight and heading to the basement.
And that’s when it happens - in the wake of the coming storm - that I realize we are without a working flashlight in the house. Dead batteries, once again.
What good is a flashlight with dead batteries during an approaching storm? Not much good at all really, since it’ll leave us in the dark – with our path unlit - should we lose power in the storm.
In the familiar verse from Psalm 119, the light from a lamp metaphorically demonstrates the actions of the divine. Specifically, the word of God encountered thorough scripture provides direction in the same way that light can illuminate a dark path.
Clearly, though, we have an active role to play if we are to use the word of God as a lamp to our feet. How often can we just pull out the Bible, flip open to a verse, and presto chango, find direction for our lives? For most of us, the answer is probably not too often. Instead, we must care and tend to the word as we would our lamp in the dark – or our flashlight in (and before) the storm.
In the Methodist tradition, it is believed that the word of God in scripture is best understood – or most illuminating to our path – when it is viewed through the lens of tradition, reason, and experience. These tools - together with scripture - make up the Methodist “quadrilateral” and are just as critical for illuminating our path as the battery or the lighter or the oil.
And, it’s also probably helpful if the scripture doesn’t end up lost in the back of the junk drawer along with that flashlight.
Just as we know summer storms are quick to approach, we too know that night – both literal and figurative - comes like clockwork. With its arrival, light fades and leaves our paths dark. We know we need to recharge or replace our flashlight batteries regularly, but let us also think to prepare ahead of time to light our spiritual lamps as well. Let us remember that we need to take action to actually light the lamp while there is still daylight. And finally, let us remember to keep our tools of reason, experience, and tradition with us for the journey.
For what good is a lamp in the dark if it cannot be lit?
Discussion Questions: How can we prevent ourselves from finding flashlights with dead batteries in the face of an oncoming storm? How can we play an active role in keeping our lamps lit by the word of God?
See more devotions from Holli and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.