Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
If I told you that it is possible to have twenty-six lights go out in a church vestibule without anyone even realizing it, you would likely think I am out of my mind. And yet that is exactly what happened at my church. It was not until the 27th of 76 lights went out that any of us even noticed…
35% of the light was gone before we even realized it.
To make this make sense, you should know that we have nineteen light fixtures in our huge vestibule with a fourteen-foot high ceiling. Each fixture has four lights. One and two at a time, spread out across the area, lights have apparently been going out, which makes sense seeing they have been in place for nearly fourteen years now. Since we were losing light gradually and in a spread-out manner, we did not even notice. It was not until one fixture lost all four lights and went completely dark that I looked up and noticed not just it but also the many others that did not look quite right.
A quick trip to Lowes, followed by an hour on our scissor lift, and I had everything lit back up. But the spiritual relevance of losing that light in that manner was a thought that I could not easily shake.
Judges 2:7-11 says, “And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim.”
Joshua led the people for around 30 years once he took over for Moses. During all that time, the people served the Lord. And then they continued to do so for all of the elders that outlived Joshua, doubtless several more decades. But little by little, slowly, imperceptibly, in the third generation, we find that they did not even know the Lord or even what God had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt, parting the Red Sea for them, giving them the Ten Commandments, sending them Manna from heaven for forty years, and stopping the waters of the Jordan to bring them into the promised land.
In other words, the generation who had been there and seen it and knew it let the lights go out. It was not an immediate, wholesale rebellion; it was the gradual day-by-day failure to notice what was happening in the next generation and fix it while there was still time that undid them. And, sadly, that failure led to a terrible period of some four hundred years when they lost their blessings and freedom time and time again.
America has, for a very long time now, been the beacon of the entire world. People across the earth give up everything to try and get here and become citizens. We are the land of freedom and opportunity, and people who have little to none of either of those precious things believe that it can be found here. But all of that freedom and opportunity has come from the hand of the very good God preached about in pulpits across the land each week for several centuries now and from the truths of the Bible from which we preach about that God.
John Adams, political philosopher, our first vice president, the second President of the United States, and one of the flawed geniuses to whom we owe our thanks for this great country in which we live, on October 11, 1798, penned a letter to the Massachusetts Militia. In that letter, he said this, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and Religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
And yet, for many long years now, one tiny thing at a time, the lights have been going out. Most school-aged kids today would be shocked to learn that most of their parents and grandparents grew up in public schools that started each day with prayer and the pledge of allegiance.
They would also be perplexed to learn that businesses, in general, used to not open on Sundays, the majority of families faithfully attended church, revival meetings used to run for several weeks, or even several months at a time, and many factories closed early to make sure all of their employees could attend those revivals.
The family altar would be another surprise. Mothers and fathers and children once regularly met together each night to pray, read the Bible, and give godly instructions. And most all of society frowned on things like pre-marital sex, adultery, and pornography. It was almost universally expected that a boy and girl stay virgins, then get married, then have children, and stay faithful until death. And that kind of thing was preached loudly and consistently from the pulpit, rather than the feel-good pablum commonly served up across the land today.
I could exhaust a good-sized book noticing the many lights that have ceased to shine. But discouragement is never my purpose in a column; I believe there is always hope as long as we live and breathe. Lights can be replaced in a church vestibule, and individuals and families can fix their own lights as well. So take stock of you, your family, your church, your neighborhood, and start there. Whatever lights you can rekindle, do so.
Even if the world as a whole continues to get darker, there will still be light where you are.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner