The Lamp Post Story
by Verna McCrillis
We have a lamp post in our front yard. Ten years ago when we bought our house it was already standing, wrapped with a healthy
blanket of ivy. Two or three times a year I would notice that the ivy leaves had spread enough to begin to block the light. I usually
realized it had happened when I stepped out of my car on a dark night and wondered why I couldn’t see. I questioned whether a
light bulb had burned out, and then would make a mental note that it was indeed time to bring out the pruning shears again. My
husband and I had deliberated about the ivy often – should we take it out? It seemed so well-entrenched that we thought the ivy
might actually be holding the post upright. So instead of taking the time to do the work and because we wanted to avoid the
dilemma of dealing with a rusted post, we resorted to the steady, bothersome trimming.
Does this picture have a symbolic reference to your life?
My light does get filtered and blocked by the things that I haven’t asked God to deal with yet. God does keep trimming but it comes
back all too quickly after being pruned. God lets me keep dealing with the leaves but at some point He will bring me to deal with the
root of my fears. In the meantime, the ivy covers up that nasty pole and it looks “nice” to those walking by. It looks so hearty that
they even let their dogs stop and do their business, without a concern.
Do you have a covering? If so, what is it?
One of mine is serving. I show my love for God by serving those around me; I even have a sense that God loves me and is pleased
with me because I am meeting the needs that I notice. The blockage of my light often comes when I feel that those I am serving
have taken advantage of me or don’t appreciate my huge sacrifice. Up pops a branch of sarcasm, another of criticalness, quickly
followed by self-pity but covered over neatly by remembering that serving is my “Christian duty.” When others start stumbling
around because of the shadows I am causing, God starts pruning. It lasts for awhile but the leaves pop up again and soon the
cycle begins again because for me the ivy is comfortable – it covers a lot of embarrassing crud.
During a raging wind storm some years ago, we looked out and saw our lamp post leaning over trying to touch
the ground. The years of vines wrapped around the post kept it from impacting with the ground, but it looked pretty sad. Should
we take it down? Still not wanting to deal with the problem, my husband went out in the rain and found a long metal stake to help
prop it up. Pounding the stake into the ground and strapping the lamp post to the stake provided a good support system. Soon the
ivy engulfed the stake as well and it wasn’t obvious that if had support.
Have you had a storm almost flatten you? What support did God send?
God has sent different people to be my stake – my husband, friends and family members. I am thankful for how they have steadily
kept me upright and carried part of my burden. But I know it is for a season. God has plans for me to stand tall in His power.
Each time I backed my car out of the driveway and I heard the ivy scratching the car door and mirror, I was reminded that
something wasn’t right. The lamp post was not meant to be a bush. It was supposed to be a light post. Those fingers of ivy reaching
out to touch the car were not part of the original plan.
Are you what you were meant to be?
I have this sense that my life is rather annoying. Oh, it looks nice but I am distracting from the Light. I meet “assumed needs” but
then find out that I assessed incorrectly. I ignore my family to help a friend, or vice-a-versa, only to end up with a sense that I’ve
neglected someone important. I really want to shine brightly but the ivy keeps getting in the way. I long to really know how loved
and valued I am by God. I long to be so secure in that love that there is no fear of what others think of me. So secure that all I
desire is God Himself.
Psalm 103:17 - God is the only One who faithfully loves me from eternity to eternity. Before I was formed in my mother’s womb He
Finally the day comes. It’s spring – a time for newness. My husband has agreed that we should focus on the lamp post. I put on
my gardening clothes, grab the pruning shears and tackle the project. After a half hour of tugging and clipping, the truth is unveiled! The massive vine system under the leaves is not going to let this be an easy project. Should I keep going? It’s nasty and dusty and way more work than I envisioned. If I stop now it would only take a few weeks before it would be green and beautiful again. No. It is time to hack away those vines, get to the root, let this lamp have a chance to give off light. The vines are overgrown and intertwined. The progress is slow. Cutting through the vine takes strength and patience. I am beginning to see spiritual truths in the process. I uncover an electrical outlet that has been completely hidden and inaccessible, There was power that could have been shared all those years!
Now I am determined to get to the roots but the closer I get, the more resistance I get. The shears can no longer cut through so I
bring out bigger and more powerful tools. As I strip away the support of the vines, the pole begins to lean. I am thankful for the
stake and the straps that keep the light from crashing to the ground. The debris from the rotting leaves clinging to the lamp make
it a lonely sight. And yet, somehow it seems better. The glass is hazy from the stains left behind but it seems free and right.
What are the vines that have entrapped your life? Have they left stains on your glass?
God has been exposing some of my vines recently. A daughter feels disconnected because I don’t call or write often. (the haze) As I ponder why this is, I realize that I am meeting the needs of those “in sight.” There is recognition of an out-of–sight, out-of–mind
mentality when meeting commitments (a vine). But when she is home from college there is a flurry of activity – attentiveness,
buying her what she needs, and cooking her favorite meals. (the leaves)
What is the root of unbelief that feeds this vine?
For me it is that God’s love equals service. The way to show love is to meet needs. I don’t believe that God loves me, no strings
attached. His love demands service in my thinking. In my head I know this isn't true. I know that His love is unconditional but in
my daily life I live as though He expects me to perform. -Verna
The power that lights the lamp is not coming from the ivy. It is flowing through the wires inside the pole. The vines don’t change the power flow, they just hide it. And eat away at the pole so it collapses…
Lord, strip me bare, pull up the roots. I’m ready to be a bright light. Wash me, renew me, strengthen me. I want to passionately be
who You made me to be.
Verna McCrillis, 9/20/2008