Be the person who cuts holes in the darkness
One evening, when he was 12 years of age, Robert Lewis Stevenson’s governess walked into his room and saw him staring out the window, watching a man light the streetlamps along the road. When the governess asked what young Stevenson was doing, he replied, “I am watching a man cut holes in the darkness.”
An entertainer named Harry Lauder once shared a similar story in a speech at the Indianapolis Commercial Club: “Some years ago I was sitting at dusk at the window of a house in Scotland, so situated that it commanded the view of an entire street of the city. Suddenly there came out from the alleyway near the house a man with a lighted torch on the end of a stick. Going to a lamppost nearby he thrust the torch to the nozzle of the gas-jet which immediately burst into light. He then went to the next post, about the middle of the square where the flame from the little torch awakened another blaze of light. I sat there watching that lamplighter as he pursued his task, and long after his form became indistinguishable, I could trace his movements by the lamps he lighted and the long trail of light that he left behind him.”
Then he added, “Your business and mine, my friends, is to so live that after our personalities have become lost in the shadows, we shall leave behind us a trail of light that will guide the steps of those who otherwise may walk in darkness.”
Philippians 2:14-15 makes a similar appeal to us: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”
Many people look out and see a world of darkness. They see life darkened by despair, discontent, strife, conflict, corruption, malice, cruelty and hatred. They long to spot evidence that someone is poking holes in the darkness. They long for indications that someone is leaving a trail of light for us.
That’s what God is calling us to be and to do.
In the midst of a world darkened by despair, discontent, strife, conflict, corruption, malice, cruelty and hatred, God calls us to be people who poke holes in the darkness by such simple and significant things as not complaining or arguing, and by living with integrity and goodness.
Madeleine L’Engle put it this way: “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
When Christians live with others without complaining or arguing, and with integrity and goodness, we poke holes in the darkness; we show a light so lovely that others will want to know the source of it.