The use of paratroopers began during World War Two. As it is now, being a paratrooper was among the most difficult and dangerous roles in the armed forces. But despite the danger and difficulty, these soldiers proved themselves to be a vital part of many Allied victories.
At the start of the war, however, landing airborne soldiers in the correct location was extremely difficult. For example, paratroopers dropping into Sicily in 1943 were scattered as far as 65 miles from their intended drop zones.
This was no small problem; if airborne troops were unable to land in close proximity to their objectives, they would be rendered completely ineffective. To solve this problem, the military created the pathfinders.
Pathfinders were small groups of specially trained paratroopers who jumped ahead of the rest of the force. Once on the ground, the job of the pathfinder was to mark the correct drop zone with signal beacons, flares, or specialized lanterns visible from the air. These men would literally light the way, allowing pilots and paratroopers alike to see exactly where they needed to land.
In the midst of darkness and chaos, fear and danger, light provided a way for others to head in the right direction. The Christian is to be such a light, a spiritual pathfinder pointing others to Jesus Christ.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…
A Christian living a life of obedience to Christ and His Word stands out as a beacon in the midst of the darkness of our world. When we shine as lights in the darkness, there will be those around us who take notice. And when they do, it is our duty and our privilege to point them to the Light of the world.
Our obedience and faith should set us apart, allowing us to shine out in the darkness, being a visible witness of the gospel. It will not do for us to hide our light. As Christ Himself said:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14-16)
Where are we to shine? We are to shine as lights before others, out in the world, and in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. We are not called to shine as lights only in our homes, or only in our churches, or only when among our Christian friends. We are to shine at all times and at all places, even when it is difficult.
It is in the deepest darkness that light shines brightest, and we must not hide our light when it becomes difficult. When truth is being condemned, we must shine. When sin and error are being celebrated, we must shine. When those who refuse to celebrate sin are themselves condemned, we must shine.
Just as the pathfinders were created to light the way for other paratroopers, the believer is to serve as a light in the midst of darkness, pointing others to Jesus Christ.
Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, “There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.” As followers of Jesus we will be ‘read’ by those around us. Live lives worthy of being God’s children and you will shine as lights in the midst of darkness.
Lights illuminate and bring comfort. Lights serve as warnings, preventing men from making shipwreck of their souls. Lights also serve as guides, pointing the way for others. Let us be as spiritual pathfinders, on mission to shine our light for others to follow.
You are the light of the world, so let your light shine out in the darkness.