Monday, May 05, 2008

Little Boys, Forts, and Jesus as the Light of the World

Yesterday afternoon was awesome. I decided to set aside research and planning that I needed to be doing for the staff retreat this week, and spend a few hours with the boys. They've got a fort started in our back yard - so we worked hard on the fort for quite a while. It's Caleb's design and Chase's manpower - wait until you see it when it's done - gonna be pretty cool.

I was taken back to my childhood big time. I loved forts. For a kid - a fort represents your spot. It's the place to get away to. The place where you're quite sure no one will ever find you. It's safe ... it's yours. In the midst of all the hard work - we took a popsicle break. And as we were sitting there admiring our work - I was remembering the Feast of Tabernacles that the Israelites celebrated (don't ask my how these things pop into my head).

So I started telling the boys about it. There was an 8 day festival that the Jews celebrated - and during that period people left their homes and lived in booths formed of the branches of trees (just like their fort) out in the sreets of Jerusalem. The booths reminded them about the wilderness wanderings and how God had provided so miraculously for his people.

So I had my boys imagine what it would be like to take their fort to downtown Erie and live in it for 8 days (sounded like a nightmare to me but they thought it would be cool.) And what it must have been like to have been delivered out of Egypt and wandering in the desert led only by God. You would be pretty dependent upon God, you would really need to trust that He knew what He was doing.

And in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles if you were to walk down the street through the city at night - you would also see that each of these little booths or forts was adorned with a lamp. Each family in each booth would light their lamps at night to symbolize God’s leading as the pillar of fire by night during their wanderings. (I hope that this detail didn't give my boys any ideas because we could be left without a woods in our backyard if they take this lamp thing too seriously).

Anyway, at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, all the lamps were extinguished, and the city returned to normal. And it was at the conclusion of this festival (just after all the lights had been extinguished) that Jesus offered these words from John 8:12, “I am the light of the world – he who follows me will never walk in darkness.” Jesus was cleverly applying all the symbolism of the pillar of fire to himself. He was claiming to be God. The God who led his people out of slavery and into deliverance. Jesus was demanding to be followed in the same way that the Israelites followed the pillar of fire. He's the one providing the light after all - how else would one know where to go in the dark?

It was fun to talk with the boys in the midst of our little project about how important it is to follow Jesus wherever he takes us because it will always be the best adventure of all.

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