God’s Flashlight

By Tom Rowley, A Rocha USA Executive Director

While hosting a group of college interns this summer at Young Life’s Washington Family Ranch in Oregon where A Rocha is helping restore the land, my friend Rick Gerhardt and I took a walk to give our middle-aged eardrums a break from all the “joyful noise” and see what animals were out and about.

A critter walk, we call it in my family. A camping tradition, in which my sons and I wander away from tent and fire, scanning the darkness with flashlights to catch the eyeshine of whatever raccoons, skunks or foxes are sharing their habitat with us. The shine, or reflection of the flashlight’s beam, comes from the layer of tissue behind the retina of many vertebrates known as the tapetum lucidum. It improves their night vision and, as a result, their ability to hunt for food.

On this particular occasion, I realized a few steps away from the cabin lights just how black was the night and how weak were my batteries. I couldn’t see a thing. Spotting animals, tapetum lucidum or no (sorry, I just get a kick out of throwing Latin around) was out of the question.

Not so for Rick.

“There,” he whispered. “See it?“


“Over there. Other side of the lake.”

At which point, I thought, “Right. I can’t see my feet and you expect me to find a pair of skunk eyes 200 hundred yards away?”

No doubt sensing my frustration—and blindness—Rick told me to stand next to him and look where he aimed his light. I did. And there they were. Eyes across the water. Shining. Blinking. Opening. Staring. Who or what they belonged to, I don’t know. It didn’t matter. It was and always is a cool thing to see. (For the record, Rick the professional biologist didn’t know either, so I don’t feel too stupid.)

And that, I think, is a little bit like what God does with us. He wants us to see things from His perspective. He wants us to see, really see, the glory-giving abundance of His very good creation. What it says about Him. What it says about His attention to detail and His penchant for grandeur. What it says about His love for all that He created, including me and you.

But all too often our batteries are weak and our bulbs are dim. So He bids us come closer. He invites us to stand next to Him and see with His light.

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