Led by the Light and Shade of the Lord’s Providence

From Rev. Solomon Keal, Assistant to the Pastor/BACS Pastor
September 10, 2019

I’ve enjoyed the warm weather this summer, but as the summer begins its slow change into autumn, I’m looking forward to the cooler weather. My fair skin is easily burned, and during the blistering heat of summer, I often seek out the refuge and comfort of the shade, away from the sun.

Bryn Athyn Church School’s theme this year is “Arise, begin your Journey” (Deuteronomy 10:11). We will be focusing on the story of the Exodus journey in our chapel series for the year. During that journey, “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light” (Exodus 13:21). I like to think about the idea that the pillar of fire gave them light to see in the dark of night, but it didn’t occur to me until recently that the pillar of cloud by day might have also given them some shade in the desert, and protection from the hot light of the sun.

The Writings tell us that we are always going through different changes of state, even in heaven. These changes of state are like the cycle of the seasons, or the cycle of day and night. During those different states, the Lord leads us in different ways, like the difference between the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud.

“Morning and midday in heaven occurs when the understanding is being enlightened by the Lord; but in this state the light is moderated by a dimming of truth, as if by a cloud. And evening and night there occur when the understanding grows dim; but the Lord moderates that dimness by means of the good of love, as if by means of a fire giving light.” (Secrets of Heaven 8108)

Recently, when helping to settle a fight between two of our kids, my wife and I found ourselves giving each kid a different — and seemingly opposite — message. One needed to try to be less irritating, and more sensitive to their siblings. The other needed to try to be less irritable, and less sensitive to the little noises made by their siblings. As adults, someone in one state might need more compassion for their mistakes, and another person in another state might need to be reminded to take responsibility for their mistakes. The Lord’s leadership is there to fit whatever state we’re in, and His message might seem to change depending on the changing circumstances of our lives. But that leadership always comes from the constant, unchanging light of His wisdom and warmth of His love.


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