Dad’s Coleman

It was quite an experience for a thirteen year-old boy.

My dad, who took hunting, fishing and the great outdoors with a seriousness of purpose and joy of heart fit for Field & Stream, had arranged for my brother and me to join him on a three-day fishing trip to northern Maine.

We would fly – the whole way.

It was July and summer still reminds me of my incredible journey.

I’d never been on a plane. We flew from Harford, Connecticut to Bangor, Maine. Then we jumped on a small plane in Orono, home to the University of Maine, and flew about twenty minutes to a town called Millinocket. But our plane rides weren’t over and my dad had saved the best for last.

We boarded a pontoon plane for the final leg of our journey. I watched the water churn white with foam as the floats glided us across the lake and we mounted up for the clear, picturesque flight over the green wilderness. We had been in the air for nearly an hour when we touched down on Henderson Pond.

It’s important to know that the word “pond” in Maine is not so much a metaphor as it is a misnomer. This was a good-sized lake.

The only way into Henderson was by sea plane. There were no roads, no homes, no stores – and no power. It was a beautiful and tranquil place and the stillness you heard was the majesty of creation.

We unpacked and got settled. As darkness began to envelop our small cabin that first night, Dad took charge. After all, if you were going to be in the middle of nowhere, our dad was the guy you wanted to be with. From a carefully packed box Dad removed the magic that would transform our tiny sanctuary.

It was a forest green Coleman lantern.

As he pumped the small knob to prepare the kerosene for ignition, my brother and I watched in anticipation. The small glow grew bigger and soon the Coleman was shedding its warm light across the room. Then Dad took the lantern and carefully hung it high above the table. It lighted the whole cabin.

Each night was the same – out came the Coleman and behold, there was light.

Had it not been for that Coleman lantern, those three nights in the Maine wilderness would have been pretty dark. But Dad had come prepared and he had brought the light.

When Jesus prayed for his disciples on another dark night in an upper room in Jerusalem, he asked his heavenly Father for light. And his prayer wasn’t just for the men in that room who shared his ministry and would lead his church. Jesus prayed for his church throughout time. He prayed for you and for me and for all those who would be his true followers.

“Sanctify them through thy truth,” Jesus prayed. “They word is truth.” (John17:17, KJV).

Jesus did not ask the Father to sanctify – that is to consecrate and make holy – his followers through emotion or experience; or politics, popularity or fads; or subjective reasoning and relevant argument. Holiness, Jesus knew, comes through the truth and nothing but the truth.

Jesus also knew the sole repository of all truth was the word of God. And so he inextricably linked them as cause and effect, as a hand slips into a glove. God’s truth is the only source of spiritual awareness, wisdom and progress. And God’s word not only contains that truth – it is God’s truth.

Truth is what ultimately matters – not our opinions or feelings or our latest ideas.

Polls and supreme courts can never alter God’s purpose, his mind or his will. It cannot abrogate his truth. Not even slightly. God doesn’t change his mind about his law; he only grieves in his heart at man’s defiance.

God’s word is our light in the darkness.

This is the foundation of Christian faith. Though it is lashed today by the torrents of post – modern cynicism, it stands firm. Peter reminds us that though heaven and earth shall fade away, God’s word shall forever remain.

It is the assault upon the possibility of absolute truth – and the fear and embarrassment of defending God’s word to a culture in wholesale rebellion to it – that has led the Christian church to a slippery accommodation with the world. Paul, who commanded Timothy to “preach the word”, laid down the gauntlet to believers living in pagan Rome: “Let God be true and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4, KJV).

This must still be our standard and the moral line Christians draw in the shifting sand of public opinion.

Now more than ever, you and I must follow the light of God’s holy and unchanging word.

“We only progress in sound living,” said English preacher Charles Spurgeon, “as we progress in sound understanding.”

Only God’s word can enlighten and instruct our minds and convict and comfort our hearts. Only his word can show us the way.

The psalmist exclaimed in awestruck gratitude:

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105, KJV).

In a world growing darker by the day, that’s even better than Dad’s Coleman.

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