Last evening we had a block party in our neighborhood. It was a beautiful evening and about 40 of our “closest” friends showed up – most of whom we had never met before.
One of the couples we met is “new” to the neighborhood. They have only been here a couple of months. As I engaged them in conversation, I discovered that they talk “funny”. They hail from South Africa!
The more we talked, the more we discovered that we have a lot in common. He is an armchair “philosopher” who thinks about everything, and doesn’t mind sharing his thoughts.
So what did we talk about? Hurricane Irma!
Actually, we spoke more about power issues and what happens in your house when the power goes off. Hurricane Irma, which came through north central Florida about a year ago, had a tremendous impact on the power grid in this part of the world, and although we did not lose power, even for a few minutes, many in surrounding areas did.
This couple from South Africa had just moved to our community and, as with us, living through a hurricane was a new experience for them.
The whole reason we were talking about power issues was that they were lamenting the fact that the home in our neighborhood which they purchased was equipped with a gas range and not one powered by electricity. They had never had a home without an electric stove, so working with gas was a new experience.
For example, they could not figure out what the setting on the range meant when it said “Broil”. But one thing they did figure out was that a gas range would be helpful in a power outage during a hurricane!
What happens to you when the power goes off? Our South African neighbors spoke of hiding in their bedroom walk-in closet during such times, for fear of being hit by a hurricane.
But what do you do when the power actually does go off?
In our house, I can verify that when the power goes off, funny things happen.
Some years ago, while we were still living in Ohio, we went through a couple of rather extensive power outages there. And when those occur, indeed strange things happen.
In one of those outages, in addition to all the lights going out, all the machines stop working. Yeah, my computer went “down.” But more machines than just that… the screens on all the electrical alarm clocks went black and stayed blank! The refrigerator quit working! The dishwasher stopped right in the middle of its cycle.
Then all the window and ceiling fans quit functioning for the duration of the outage!
But one particular power outage was also a signal of another kind. In and of itself, it served as an alarm clock!
Even though this outage occurred in the middle of the night, by the time the power had been off for just a couple of minutes, all of our children were up, searching for batteries for flashlights, or lighting candles, in order to “see” what was happening!
I don’t know about you, but in some ways, I feel like our country is right now in the middle of a power outage… sort of… somehow! A lot of darkness anyway, and a lot of people sort of running around in a frenzy, not really knowing what they should be doing, but trying to give some sort of explanation to all that is going on.
And the machinery seems to have stopped working very well, too! And I’m not just talking about the situation in Washington. We see in sports arenas, on school campuses (at all levels of education), in lunch rooms and board rooms of major corporations, and in a variety of other situations.
All a person has to do is to read the headlines or listen to the “professional” news channels on a daily basis. You will read about kids killing kids, sports heroes gaining headlines by their antics and activities off the field, celebrities using their celebrity status to speak out on things they know nothing about, and national leaders doing unthinkable things, then lying about them, and later signing phenomenal book contracts for the story rights.
If I didn’t know better, I would think that the road to success in this country in these latter days is to commit some scandalous act, then search for an agent who can sell the rights to the book and movie and TV mini-series! A person who can accomplish this is almost certain to live the rest of his days in financial luxury!
We certainly are in a power blackout!
And we are looking for light in all the wrong places! We are looking to Washington or Columbus or Tallahassee or some other state or national capital for guidance and direction.
And while it is true that those who are in positions of leadership in those places should realize that character DOES matter and moral values ARE important for them as well as for us, it is also true that their power is limited, and their character is flawed!
And it may sound simplistic, but it does no good to go around searching for flashlight batteries to cast light on our culture and society when the flashlight is broken and the batteries themselves are DEAD!
Jesus Christ said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life!” (John 8:12)
All you and I and our national leaders have to do is turn to Jesus and He will turn on the switch! That involves more than just giving Him lip service, but it involves FOLLOWING HIM, and DOING what HE says!
When we do, no matter how dark the world around us may seem, the path WE travel will always have light!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.