I was a new Christian – and very depressed. Just a few months after surrendering my life to Jesus Christ, the initial joy had worn off and I was feeling frustrated.
So I tried praying more…reading my Bible more…and attending more church meetings. But even though I was trying so hard to be a good Christian, nothing seemed to work.
Following Jesus felt like an exhausting hamster wheel, and I was the unfortunate hamster. With no joy…no peace…no love…no impact…all that remained was endless striving.
This bewildering situation came to a head one dark night. I parked my car on a secluded country road where I could be by myself to sulk and pour out my complaint to God.
“Lord, this Christian life stuff just isn’t working,” I moaned. “The harder I try, the more frustrated and discouraged I get. If this thing is real, You’ve got to show me some kind of sign to show me You’re there…some kind of burning bush like you showed Moses.”
I waited a few minutes, and nothing happened. As I stared into the dark night, it seemed to taunt me and reaffirm my gloomy disposition.
“See, I knew it!” my lament continued. “Just as I expected, You refused to answer me.”
Concluding that my prayers had been unfruitful, I put my hand on the ignition key, figuring I might as well head home. But before I could start the engine, a tiny flicker of light in the distance caught my attention. What could it be? After all, this was a pitch-black night, and I was far from civilization.
Suddenly I realized the source of this miniscule light that had so boldly shattered the darkness: It was a firefly!
A smile crossed my face as I chuckled to myself, “I guess I got my burning bush after all!”
The more I pondered the unexpected epiphany I’d seen, the more excited I got. I was astounded that even the darkest night couldn’t extinguish the light of that tiny little firefly.
How encouraging! Although the light from my Christian life had become flickering and faint, hope arose in my heart. Yes, my light might be dim at the moment, but it nevertheless had power to destroy the darkness.
The light emanating from that firefly seemed miraculous to me. How did he do it? Despite having no battery or external power source, his light radiated effortlessly. He could brighten up even the darkest situations, without having to break a sweat. Quite the picture of an overcomer!
Instead of producing light by “trying hard,” this heroic bug was simply being who God had made him to be. Just like Jesus said about us (Matthew 5:14-16), radiating light was a part of the firefly’s identity – his very nature. There was no need to work things up through extraordinary effort.
What a timely lesson for me that night! I began to recall Bible verses I had overlooked, passages teaching that the Christian life is not a matter of self-effort but rather “Christ in us” (Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20). I started to understand that instead of me having to try harder, the secret to a joy-filled life was quite the opposite: allowing Jesus to live His life through me by the Holy Spirit. Over the years, God has had to remind me of this secret countless times.
My friend, I share this story wondering if perhaps you’re going through a dark night of the soul right now. Maybe, like me, you’ve been trying hard to “do the right things,” yet without experiencing the victory and joy the Bible promises.
If so, I encourage you to remember the lessons of the firefly. Grasp that the secret is not trying but trusting…not striving but surrendering…not getting stronger but letting Him work through your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
As you allow Christ to live His life through you by the Spirit, you’ll find much-needed rest for your soul (Matthew 11:28-30). In your weakness, He will show Himself strong. Light will return, and darkness will be dispelled!