Thinking through the whole exchange with Ian, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to understand the power of the light, even under less than perfect circumstances. My son did not want to obey my directive. He was openly resistant to the detour my words imposed on him. However, the end result of his reluctant obedience still produced the desired effect: a wonderful aroma, a beautiful but small blaze of flickering illumination and an increased appreciation for childish obedience.
Ian's first reaction to me asking him to light the candle was not unlike the Prophet Jonah's recalcitrant reaction to the Lord's directive to go to the wicked city of Nineveh. Jonah grumbled and decided to travel, but in the opposite direction. He thought he could out-maneuver the Almighty and found himself at the bottom of the ocean in the belly of a great fish. (think very slimy and smelly) Three days in the down-under produced true repentance and the Lord released his captivity by having the whale regurgitate Jonah on a beach within walking distance of the great city of the Ninevites. The sea-weed covered messenger walked around the city crying,"Repent, for in forty days Nineveh will be overturned." Jonah was not a happy-camper. He obeyed under duress, but he did obey. The light of his litany dispelled the darkness to such an extent that the King called for a three day fast for all inhabitants both men and animals. God noticed and was pleased. It was in fact a sweet aroma to Him, that warmed His soul and the smile of compassion crossed His lips: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.
Ian was unwilling to immediately obey me. So Jonah was not immediately obediently, either. And don't we often hesitate when the Lord whispers directives in our ears as well? Nevertheless, as we follow through and comply with the Word of the Lord the Light goes forth to both change the spiritual atmosphere and bring a fragrance of faith to those that will follow. As Jesus instructed: "So let your light shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 5:16) And I Samuel 15:22 reminds us that to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.