30 January 2008

Letting some light in

Last night as I was going to bed, I walked into my bedroom, flipped on the light switch and not one but two of the three light bulbs in my bedroom light fixture blew out. My first reaction was to jump because it startled me. What came next were some unsanctified words and thoughts. I was thoroughly annoyed at what an inconvenience it will be for me to haul in a stepladder or chair, climb up and change light bulbs. I had sufficient light to postpone the ‘arduous’ task until the morning, so I continued with my bedtime routines and fell asleep.

Today I woke up with bright sunlight streaming into my room. Yesterday had been gray and raining. Today it was crisp, cold and clear. Knowing I have plenty of time to change the light bulbs, I set about doing other things including reading my bible. Something I read reminded me of my Biblical Backgrounds class. I was remembering the class fondly; the professor is a godly man who has tremendous knowledge and a love of teaching. I began comparing how I live with how Dr. Schaefer had described life for the women in the bible.

My house has windows in every room but one. Sometimes, I have to draw curtains and blinds to keep the light out of my home. I have about 1500 square feet of living space. I have laminate floors and Berber carpet. I have electricity to heat and cool my home, running water and a microwave if I want to heat some food.

My counterpart? If she lived in a house and not a tent or a cave, she planned her day around sunlight, because she didn’t have a light switch to flip lights on and off. Her home was maybe 150 square feet. She had one small window and the door to allow light to come in. If she wanted light after sundown or where it [sunlight] couldn’t reach she burned an oil lamp. Think about the light a candle would produce. That’s about as much light as they produced. The wick was flax or pieces of garments that had fallen apart. She would have to keep the oil lamp full and the wick trimmed all the time. Does this give insight into Matthew 25? (I may write a post on marriage customs next- fascinating stuff).

The entry way wasn’t tiled or carpeted. It was packed down earth. Most of the house was like that. In the back away from the door was a raised pallet or floor. That would be where everyone slept. The animals, whether a trusty guard dog or the family’s goats or sheep, slept on the earthen floor part. Imagine what a little rain would do for the smell and the muddy floor, not to mention what animals do when they eat regularly. Does this help you understand why a woman might rejoice to find a lost coin? Or give you an appreciation for what she went through to find it? (Luke 15:8-9) Perhaps you can understand why the man didn't want to answer the door when his neighbor came asking for loaves in the middle of the night. Besides being comfy in bed, who knows what he might have to wade through in the dark? Luke 11:5-9? (thanks mutato!)

She didn’t have cupboards and cabinets to store her things. Her house was made of stone and there were niches and projections to hold or set her things upon. We won’t mention things like spiders or bugs in the crevices and such. There may have been a fire going inside to keep them warm, but not necessarily. Most of the common folks kept warm by wearing their cloak to bed. Versatile wardrobe- go to town in it, sleep in it and use it for wicks when it is too tattered to repair. Water didn’t come out of a tap, she had to fetch it and store it. There were no leisurely baths, cleansing showers or washing machines. Again, imagine the smell.

The house was built with a flat roof. The roof was made of branches tied together and packed down with mud. There was a heavy weight they would use to pack the mud in after a rain. Roofs were not watertight; they sprouted greenry from whatever seeds were in the mud they used. They did provide an alternate place to sleep when the weather was good although falling through the roof was always a possibility.

As I consider these things, it is no longer such an arduous task to change a light bulb. Lord, help me create an attitude of gratitude to replace those unsanctified thoughts. Keep me mindful of your providence for me. (Romans 8:28-30)


Perfectly His said...

Wow. What a way to put things in prespective! Right down to the details. Thanks for sharing such an insight on Biblical times and placing them in today's lifestyle. We truly have much to be thankful for. I recently went on a trip to a Latin American country and saw living conditions like those you described. It was difficult to gulp.
How petty do my cries of not having a 'walk-in' closet seem now.


rosemarie said...


Indeed, we forget how truly blessed we are here. That we have enough disposable income for computers with internet access makes us wealthy by many standards. And yet for Christians, our wealth isn't here at all, our treasure is in heaven!