This is my story for vision. I went for a walk one Saturday evening to reflect on a sermon I was delivering the next day. There was something about what I had written that just didn't sit right with me. My plan was to walk where I felt God wanted me to walk; so as to open myself up to seeing the path that He wanted my sermon to take.
It must have worked. I walked East, up the hill that my parents' house sits on. I arrived at the top and turned around. What I saw simply took my breath away; if there is one thing that Hamilton is good for, it's being home to a good, old fashioned, breathtaking sunset.
The sun was still shining brightly as it hung above the mountains and hills that surround the city. The sky was a battleground of reds, yellows, oranges and pinks. A few lazy clouds dotted the sky, and were framed by burning yellow outlines.
After standing in awe of the beauty of the scene unfolding in front of me, I felt as though God was asking me to continue on my walk, so I turned around, and noticed the full moon. It was hanging low and was very faint, as if drawn by a white crayon. The sky of the day and the sky of the night were separated above me by a thin band of purple that stretched across the sky.
I kept walking East, keeping my head down (like any brooding male in his early twenties, I have bad posture) and following where I believed God was leading me. Finally I arrived at the top of another hill and turned around and looked at the setting sun.
The Western sky was pink now, and the sun had dipped below the mountain ranges. The purple band had vanished and the sky blended from pink in the West, to a rich, dark blue on the Eastern side. The moon had risen, as if standing up on the mountains, high and proud. It was smaller than earlier, but now glowed fervently against the dark sky.
I stood on top of the hill in the darkness, but with God's love still shining upon me, and I understood what He was trying to show.
The sun was God in all His glory. His love was emanating from Him and coating the sky in the magnificent colours that He himself created. He was bathing the countryside and the city in His love.
God was revealing His immense beauty and the power of His love to the people of Hamilton that evening. I wonder how many people stopped to take it all in.
The moon was the church, reflecting the love of God into the ever-darkening city. As the sky grew darker, and God was being pushed aside by the darkness, the church rose and shrunk back, but glowed brighter and brighter as it shined God's love onto the people that needed to be touched by Him.
God wasn't beaten back by the darkness at all. God was still there, being reflected by the moon. He simply shrunk back, allowing the darkness to set in. But also allowing the church to rise up and reflect His love.
The challenge for us is to reflect God's love into the community around us. Where do you start? In your church. Where do you draw the line? Well, where does love draw the line? Love has no boundaries, and no limits. Love flows, and keeps growing and expanding. We in the Westernised church have largely shut ourselves off from this flowing, boundless, limitless love, and have started to only focus on those in our family, or in our friend group. But God asks us to reach out and really get inside a community and fill it with His love.
Love is, of course, God's most powerful and most important characteristic. 1 Corinthians chapter 13, verses 1–3 tell us that without love, we are nothing. Even if we are working in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and we aren't living in love, we are nothing.
I have been reading a book called Man's search for meaning by psychologist and logo-therapy founder Viktor Frankl. This is what he had to say about love:
Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualised but yet ought to be actualised. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualise these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.
When God loves us, He can see our potential, and by loving us, He helps us see that potential in ourselves, and by loving us, God helps us actualise our potential. So, when we reflect God's love into another person, we can see their potential, and by loving them, we help them see the potential in themselves, and by loving them, we help them actualise that potential, and help them grow into the person that God needs them to be.
We, as the church, need to use God's glory that He has placed in us, by loving others. And maybe with love, we can change lives. Maybe with love, we can save lives. Maybe with love, we can point lives in the right direction.
God is the sun, we are the moon, and sometimes, when everything is dark and the sun is not around, it's up to the moon to reflect the sun, and shine some light on the darkness around it.
Lehi is a youth worker at Zeal Youth Centre in Wellington, NZ, and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He loves painting, writing bad poetry, and doing life in the company of people with big hearts.
Lehi Duncan's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lehi-duncan.html