Just after I had published the article “Walking in the Light” last night, Anne called up the stairs: “Bob, can you help me get the chickens in?“ It was about 11 pm. We had both forgotten to shut in Jessica Hennis and Roadrunner, the two hens that have the run of our garden. The long Summer days are already starting to draw in, and Anne actually commented: “It’s dark now!“ I took my phone and said “it’s okay I’ve got my torch,“ and switched it on to shine a light up the garden. And then I realised that I had just written about exactly this, and that God was speaking to me prophetically.
So what was He saying?
We shine the torch of love on the path ahead of us so that we don’t stumble. But we also shine a torch for others to keep them from stumbling as well. And what was the purpose of our walk? To shut in the hens so that the fox didn’t get them. God has given us responsibilities. The chickens go into roost by themselves, but it isn’t enough for us to just leave them to it: we have a responsibility to keep them safe.
The purpose of our walk together was to keep the enemy out. Jesus came to destroy the works of the evil one. So we walk in the light and we help others also to walk in the light in order to thwart the work of the enemy within the realm of the responsibilities that God has given us. To paraphrase 1 Peter 5:8: the devil prowls around like a sly fox, to see what chickens he can devour. But God has given ministries and allocated responsibilities within the church so that we can walk together in the light; and it is as we grow in love and look after our “chickens” that the boundaries of the darkness are pushed back and the devil – who can’t come into the light – has less and less room to roam.
Today the Lord says to us: “Is your torch switched on? Who are you holding it for? Are your chickens safe?
Jesus said “the devil has nothing on me.” (John 14:30) The day will come when he has nothing on the church either and no darkness within it for him to roam in: that will be the day when Jesus comes back for his bride.