In a corner of my garden, I've created a special place I call the Refuge. Simply, it is a bench positioned in a secluded spot next to a bed of lilies. When I sit there, I have a perfect view of my roses and a statue of Joan of Arc as a young girl, her hands folded in prayer. I sit there sometimes to meditate and pray.
One spring, I added a decorative accent lantern that hangs from a stake pushed in among the lilies. The lantern, which has a small light powered by a solar battery, turns on automatically at dusk as long as the operating knob is switched to the on position. When I first installed the lantern, I had to wait to see how it would look because the battery needed to be charged; the instructions recommended exposing the solar panel at the top of the lantern to twelve hours of full sun before turning the lantern on.
Two days of overcast weather followed, and I grew impatient for results. Finally, after a day of constant sunshine, I ran outside and switched the lantern on. Dusk fell, but nothing happened. Disappointed, I told myself that maybe the battery needed to charge one more day. I turned the lantern off to conserve whatever energy it had stored and waited twenty-four hours.
The next evening at twilight, I went outside again and switched on the lantern. No light shone. Feeling discouraged, I went back in the house and told my husband, "I don't know what to do. I guess I'll give it one more day. If it still doesn't work, I'll have to call the manufacturer."
Daylight faded even more, and my husband closed the draperies on the windows overlooking the garden. He asked if I wanted to watch a video, and with a sigh I agreed. But I felt restless. Fifteen minutes later, I pulled one of the draperies aside and gazed wistfully out at the Refuge. After a moment, I realized I was seeing a small white light, with much of the silvery quality of moonlight. My lantern was finally working.
A couple of days later, as I sat in the Refuge having my morning prayers, my gaze fell upon the copper light fixture a few feet away from me, and I suddenly understood how much we Christians are like a solar-powered lantern. We can do nothing on our own. We are energized by a greater source of power, one that outshines the sun far more intensely than the sun outshines my feeble lantern.
The apostle John promises that everyone who hopes in Christ will be purified, just as Christ himself is pure. Jesus' radiant love and beauty is itself enough to transform us, if we have the courage to look at him steadily. "We shall be like him for we shall see him just as he is."