• Richard Parrish

Where’s the Flashlight When We Need It?


Advent is a season in the Christian calendar that observes a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ.


In the Biblical readings for the first Sunday of Advent, the prophet Isaiah references God’s people’s darkness when God hides His face. In contrast, the Psalmist lyrically laments:

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” - (Psalm 80:3, ESV)

For many of us, it seems that our light suddenly went out in 2020.


Recently we had an electrical problem at our house. A new exhaust fan quit working. My wife decided to see what the problem was. It would require her to explore the attic and locate the vent of the malfunctioning fan.


My first inclination was: “Let’s call an electrician.”


My wife’s construction skills are a blessing. Our house has had many renovation projects coordinated by or completed by Vicki. Most of them took place when she knew I would be out of town — and out of her way!


Her exploration of the attic took place while I was out of the house on an appointment. When I returned, she told me how she had navigated the entire attic’s length and had located the exhaust fan’s vent.


She had carried her favorite and faithful flashlight. It provided a bright light, more powerful than most flashlights. She could easily see where to place her next step without fear of creating a new and unwanted hole in our ceiling.


Without warning, her flashlight quit working!


Now, what am I going to do, she thought. How am I going to see the small “two-by-fours” that will lead me back safely?


Fiddling with the switch on her flashlight, she was able to get it to work dimly. Although it failed to radiate the usual bright intensity, it offered flashes of light to help her find her way back to the attic opening.


Like Vicki’s trustworthy flashlight, there are times when the light we depend on is no longer dependable. What we relied on to help us find our way is no longer reliable.


The anticipation we had at the beginning of 2020 were bright and hopeful. Then, just like a malfunctioning flashlight, we were left with barely visible light. COVID, political divisiveness, racial tension, economic challenges, isolation and separation, and a host of other things we never imagined consumed us in a cloud of darkness.


Those living during the days of Isaiah and the Psalmist also lived in darkness. We’re not the first people who have longed for light. We won’t be the last.

“Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

Imagine the power those words held for saints of old as they longed for light to show them the way. Those same words are also essential for us.


We may have more modern conveniences, greater accessibility, ease of access, labor-saving devices, and even “state-of-the-art” flashlights. But like Isaiah and the Psalmist’s associates, we too can discover that what we depended on no longer works.


Like those before us, we too find ourselves in spiritual darkness blacker than an attic with no flashlight. We also desperately need light.


It’s uncomfortable being in the dark. But darkness has a way of helping us appreciate the light. All it took for Vicki to navigate a dark attic safely was a dim light. Even a flickering, weak light provides comfort and assurance.


As we light the first candle of Advent this year, it’s critical to remember that this is more than a “religious thing” we do. It is a tangible reminder of how God will provide HOPE, even in our darkness.


You may have more questions than answers, more fear than faith, more frustration than peace. But this is the time that we wait with anticipation for Christ’s coming. And with His coming, we will discover His light that shows us our way, warms our spirits, and shines through us — offering warmth, comfort, and HOPE to others.


God of hope, let Your grace shine on and through me, casting away the works of darkness, putting on the armor of light, bringing Your light of hope to a world darkened in sin. Blessed be God now and forever. Amen.