Now, at home, standing out on my porch with a mug of coffee, watching a lightning storm is one of my favorite activities. I love watching the rain drip off of the branches of the pine tree in our front yard, seeing the crackle of the lightning and then counting the seconds until I hear the crash of thunder that follows. Even in the midst of the power of the storm, I find it offers a measure of comfort. Or at least of familiarity.
But on the interstate driving 65 mph at 1 AM? Not so much. In that circumstance, it is simply jarring, disorienting and mildly terrifying.
As I was driving along, each flash of lightning would fully illuminate everything around me. But because I was accustomed to the darkness, I wasn't able to actually see anything. The light it provided wasn't beneficial, it only served to make it more difficult for me to drive. It was so overwhelming that it was more of a hindrance than a help.
I think sometimes as Christians we can do the same thing. We see something that looks like darkness in someone's life and we want to "let our light shine." So we come in like a flash of lightning and share an insight or rebuke and then fade away. The truth is, there was probably something worth passing on, something that could be helpful, but when we approach it in that manner, we simply make things more confusing.
Light is good and necessary, but we need to be consistent. Showing up every now and then only serves to blind and startle, it offers no real illumination. A city on a hill isn't something that comes and goes, it's established; it's reliable. Its light promises safety and comfort. It is a symbol of longevity.
Jesus called us to be light, but never to be lightning. Let's be sure that we remember the difference.
Have you ever flashed someone? Have you ever been flashed? (C'mon people! You know what I mean! ;-D)