Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Controlling the dimmer switch

When I was in middle school my parents gutted our kitchen and remodeled the whole thing, completely transforming it from a dark, dated, cramped space into one that is white, bright and timeless. Everything that they did to that space was an improvement. Wood floors were laid, white cabinets were installed, new appliances filled the space where old (some no longer working) appliances used to sit and new recessed lighting was placed in the ceiling. The lighting continues to be one of my favorite features of the kitchen. I am not a big fan of bulky, fluorescent lights that hang from the ceiling like an impending alien invasion. I like the sleek, subtle lights that are set into the ceiling with a look that is finished and polished. The added bonus of recessed lighting is the nifty switch that comes along with them: the dimmer.
I am a big fan of the dimmer. I use it every day. In the early morning the lights at full blast are just too bright for my liking. Instead I usually ease into the day with lights at half their fullness, then gradually increase their brightness as the day progresses and the sun rises.
Recently my love of the dimmer has grown into a little bit of an annoyance because the dimmer seems to be on the fritz. It still performs its function but it does so with a constant buzzing sound. When the lights are anything but completely off or completely on there comes a constant low grade buzz from the vicinity of the wall switch. My limited (or rather, nonexistent) electrician skills forbid me from being able to diagnose the cause of the problem. All I know is that the dimmer no longer wants to perform its function in silence. If it's going to give me dimmed lights it is going to complain the whole time.
The current status of the dimmer in the kitchen got me thinking about my own internal dimmer. Never before had I considered that I am in control of a dimmer that is letting in or keeping out the light in my own life. My possession of an internal dimmer isn't unique. We all have one. Some of us are aware of its presence and power. Others of us have no clue that we can control such a thing.
Our internal dimmer sets the amount of God we allow to penetrate our daily lives. The dimmer can be turned completely down. Every day we can choose to wake up without the slightest thought of God, his presence or his will. We can walk through the day without considering obedience, scriptural right and wrong or Godly love. We can go to sleep without letting a prayer pass our lips or even pop into our mind. The dimmer might as well not even exist. You could cut the chord that supplies its power and no one would know because no one has thought to turn the knob in so long they have forgotten what it controls or that it is there at all.
Others put their dimmer up part way but never get the full brilliance of the light. They turn it up enough to see but, afraid of blinding light before the eyes are adjusted, don't crank it up all the way. They never get to live life fully because the lights are only up half way. They perform the tasks of the day with a constant ringing. Yes, they can see but there is something not quite right. The buzzing gets in the way and the shadows of the dim light require squinting. Seeing isn't effortless. Some things (like dust and dirt) are missed. Some spots on the floor don't get cleaned. And always that buzzing. Something is just not quite right. Something is being overlooked.
But then there is the life lived in the full brightness of the light. Instead of waiting for our eyes to be adjusted to the light of the day, instead of easing our way out of darkness, this life jumps into the day full steam ahead, lights ablaze. This person doesn't shy away from the dirt and grim that is only seen in full light. This person doesn't fear the startling effects of the quick transition of sleep to full light. They revel in the brightness. Their day is a celebration of all that can be seen in the fullness of the light. They don't have an annoying buzz to disturb their thinking. They have clarity of thought and the clearest of vision.
Every day, when we wake up and roll out of bed, we can choose where we will set our own internal, personal dimmer. Will you turn yours on at all or continue to stumble around in the darkness? Will you tap into part of its potential, allowing for just a shadowy dimness to cast over your surroundings while still having to put up with an incessant and unexplainable ringing?
Or will you turn the lights on full blast? Will you risk the alarming brightness for the thrill of being able to see everything fully without having to squint and without having to put up with an unnatural buzz? The shock might startle you at first. Bright light at 6 AM on a cool fall morning can make a person stop dead in their tracks. But the shock is temporary. The eyes adjust.
When our lights are turned completely on our hearts can be completely open to what God has in store for us. We can see heartache and joy through his glasses. We won't be looking through a fog. We won't be trying to read print that is too small in light that is too dark. We will have clear vision.
Each morning God wants us to set our heart's dimmer to this setting. If you woke up this morning and didn't even reach for the switch it is not too late. If you turned it on but didn't turn it up, it is not too late. The round knob still holds the power to shine those lights at full potential. God is still there, ready to illuminate your heart and bring light into your life. All you have to do is turn that knob all the way up.

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