"Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." - Job 5:7
I never really understood this wisdom from the book of Job until studying a campfire earlier this year, observing that the life expectancy of an upward-bound spark is not lengthy. Sooner or later, usually sooner, the cold darkness strangles the feeble glimmer of light: mute, astonishing testimony to the brute power of the void we find ourselves in.
Sparks do not burn on their own, they merely absorb and radiate the energy of their fiery origin. Created in the image of God, we retain within the very fabric of our fragility the light of the divine. (John 1:9, 2 Corinthians 4:7) But it is only an infinitesimal sliver of the blazing bonfire that is God.
(We too often underestimate the dramatic nature of the incarnation: the frank condescension of Phillipians 2. God "in the likeness of men," stripped of his rank and radiance, criticized and crucified by his own. As Lewis put it, "If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.")
So here we are, barely. The Biblical view of existence is not particularly flattering: a vapor, a vanity, a passing wind. It gives a whole new meaning to "this little light of mine."
Image courtesy of Jesse T.