A Lantern for the Storm


As a teenager, I did a lot of babysitting. One family in particular holds a place in my memory – though not for the reasons you might think. While I only sat for them one time, the impression of that experience gives me food for thought today.

Their home was only a few miles from ours and was an old farmhouse with high ceilings, wood floors, original light features and switches – very authentic with a few modern conveniences.

The night I went over to watch their girls was a stormy one. In fact, on his way out the door, their dad gave me final instructions to light the kerosene lantern in case the electricity went out since they had no flashlights. As the girls and I settled into having fun, I did not think much of those parting words. Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to thunderstorms and rain.

After playing for several hours, the girls went to bed with no problem. However, it was not long before another wave of the storm moved in, causing the wind to blow, apparently bringing down power lines and, yes, you guessed it – leaving us in the dark. The girls awoke with the storm noise and began screaming and crying. I brought them into the living room and lit the kerosene lantern as I had been instructed. I had never burned one before and was grateful their dad had taken the time to show me how to lift the glass to light the wick.

The parents arrived home a couple of hours later to find their girls back in bed and me seated in the dark with the one lantern burning. You may be wondering why I remember this experience so clearly. Well, as the mother walked into the house, she immediately began yelling at me, accusing me of ruining her house. Apparently as the lantern burned, black smoke rose to mark her ceiling with soot. I did not realize that would happen. I was simply following the instructions her husband had given me hours before.

You may be wondering why I chose to write of this not-so-pleasant experience today. Lanterns have recently been an object of study as I read through part of Exodus in the Bible this week. I found it interesting to realize the different between lanterns and candles. Candles burn off of themselves, using up their own wax to produce the light, eventually burning out as the wax is depleted. Lanterns, however, burn off a fuel. As that fuel is replenished, the light need never be extinguished, thus providing a continual source of light.

Walking through grief can feel like trudging through a storm. As you and I work to maneuver our way, we require a light to guide us. The path we walk is often dark, frightening and unfamiliar. Without some sort of illumination, we can fail to move forward in our journey. While it is possible to move in the dark, we tend to run into walls and dead-ends, causing unnecessary pain and harm. Your grief is already painful. Adding to your hurt can be prevented by seeking a trusted light source.

As we move forward living with loss, we need to have confidence that our path will remain lit. This means fuel is required for the journey. If we walk solely in our own strength, resembling the candle using its own wax, we will eventually tire and lose our light. However, if we allow God to supply the fuel for light, we can see the path lit by the  lantern that never stops burning. Trust that God will meet your needs. Accept His fuel for your journey. Discover the burning power in reading the Bible, praying and listening to good, solid teaching.

As you journey through your grief, allow God to fuel you. A lantern-lit path will be far better than one destined to end in darkness by candlelight.

Until next time –