Let’s Set the Dark Alight


If you’ve been following along with me, you’ll know I’ve been digging deeply into the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand, ever since heeding the call to get up past midnight to go read the story with fresh eyes. Today, I want to look at this passage from the account in Mark:

“Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people” (Mark 6: 41, NIV).

Here, I noticed for the very first time that Jesus commands His disciples to “set” the food before the people, just as they themselves were called to bring what they had (and not) forward to Jesus.

When I was new to my faith, as a returned prodigal, I was shepherded by a friend, who chose to “set” Jesus before me. She saw me hold onto mistaken beliefs and make wrong decisions, but also saw Jesus was working within me. She chose to bring me to Jesus in prayer and to “set” Jesus (her living testimony of Jesus in past and present experiences of His transformative grace, and her Gospel-driven actions and words) before me, but NOT to determine or steer my path, recognizing this was and is Jesus’ task.

When I look back I see how this allowed me to grow in my faith, to begin slowing to hear the voice of Jesus, to learn from my errors and NOT to rely on others, as I had done as a child, which was what caused me to serve an idol, rather than the living God. By choosing NOT to overprotect me and entrusting me instead to Jesus, she gifted me the opportunity to get to know Christ for myself in her example, testimonies and Words of encouragement.


Her most powerful impact on me has been the Scriptures she has shared and me seeing how Christ is reflected in her genuine friendship, gentleness, kindness, truth-telling in love and grace-driven motherhood.

I also see relevance for myself here as a parent and how I am called to “set” Jesus before my children (in my actions, my words, the Word of God and prayer) and to release them into His safe care. This is not to say that I cannot ask questions and prompt them to think, reflect and seek after the Living God themselves by asking their own daring questions of God. However, I see so clearly that it is not my job to steer, to tell them what they should or should not believe.


Here it is interesting to note that the Hebrew word translated as “train up” from the Scripture “to train up a child in the way they should go” actually literally means to “dedicate”. As the following study shows through an extremely detailed study of the language and the context of Scripture, it is more about releasing our adolescent children (the Hebrew word used translated in our modern Bibles to child actually denotes an adolescent) into the world and celebrating their step into adulthood and Christ-led calling (see Proverbs 22:6, Hildebrandt).

This all makes such perfect sense, when we dig deeper into God’s Word. Jesus clearly tells us (John 6:44, NIV):

No-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.

And just to make sure we didn’t miss this, Jesus repeats this again in John 6:65, NIV:

“This is why I told you that no-one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

And what’s equally fascinating is what Jesus says in response to those steeped in Scripture who vehemently oppose His healing of people on the Sabbath (John 7: 24, NIV):

Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Appearances say Jesus is breaking God’s commandment to rest on the Sabbath. Appearances are based on Scripture alone. Truth says Jesus is healing on the Sabbath to reveal the ultimate purpose of God’s law: a relationship of love with His people. Truth IS the revelation of the Scriptures by God the Father through Jesus Christ, and to us through the Holy Spirit (Jesus in us). Jesus, our Savior, IS the way, the truth and the life. The Truth is not a book alone, but a living, breathing person, who we are called into relationship with.


We set people before Jesus, by living in relationship with our Savior:

  • by daily sitting at His feet just as we are, like Mary, who lovingly bathed her Savior’s feet in salty tears and sweet perfume, or Hannah mistaken as a drunk in her anguished prayers in the temple: by being men and women of undivided hearts, pouring all of ourselves out, admitting our desperate lack, our anguish and a deep yearning for Him, our only true Home;
  • in surrendering to His will, a daily yielding to His calling of us away from our plans, away from our desire for the safe option, away from our desire to hide, letting Him bend our will to His and keep feeding our souls on the Bread of His Living Spirit-breathed Word;
  • by singing His praises in all we do and say, glorifying His Name by sharing what God is doing in our lives and worshiping Him in our daily life in the big and the small;
  • by pouring out His love on everyone around us, being the servant He calls us to be in actions of love, entering the world with a longing to bless in His Name;
  • by going and looking for Him, so that we might join Him in the beautiful Kingdom work He has prepared for us in advance to walk in!!

I watched my parents set Jesus before me in this exact way as a little Kiwi girl in Germany and it’s what had me yearning with all that was within me to become a missionary, just as them. I saw the incredible power of God transforming broken lives and I yearned for more of this God. Now more than twenty years later I am finally stepping into my Christ-led calling, not at all as I had envisioned it. It has been the most tear-stainedgrueling, near-death, desperate two years of holding His beautiful hand…but oh my heart poureth over. I’m seeing such beauty in the breaking, as I’ve been continually pressed to my knees, in tears, not knowing if I could take anymore…but OH how I look back in wonder and how my eyes even now are opening more and more to His Master Plan being woven into place right before my eyes and all I can do is stand in utter, breathtaking awe and weep some more. Lives are being impacted, powerfully.

Do you know how much He loves you, how much He yearns for you to sit at His feet, to draw you up on His lap and embrace you into His strong safe arms? And to whisper in your ear: “I have chosen you, yes: YOU. Now go bring my Light into the darkness, I’m waiting for you, come join me! Let’s make some fireworks!!”



8 thoughts on “Let’s Set the Dark Alight

  1. Anna, this is so beautiful to think about, and means so much to me now as I am praying for my own adult children, and those I love as if they were my own. “I am setting them before Jesus,” as I live and love and pray for them to hear His voice for themselves. Thank you for this sweet reminder and encouragement tonight. –Blessings and Hugs!


    1. Hugs to you too, Bettie. God knows just how much our hearts yearn for our loved ones to hear His voice for themselves…I keep forgetting that, but He keeps gently reminding me and encouraging me. Lifting you and your children and those dear to you up in prayer right now.

      Thank You, LORD that even now, You are working in Bettie and her loved ones’ lives. Help open Bettie’s and my eyes to see You working in those dear to us and give us the knowledge and discernment, clothed in Your beautiful love, to keep setting You before them and to grow more and more into Your will for our lives, confidently and unashamedly. Thank You, LORD.


  2. Thanks Anna! I learn so much when I visit here. Yes, dedicating our children and others to Christ as He does the work within them frees them to take their own path. Each journey is different . So wonderful that you had a friend who understood this well!


    1. She’s such a precious friend that I will always be incredibly grateful for. She has been a real spiritual mother for me. God is a powerful teacher: so blessed to share what He gifts me. So thankful it is blessing you too, Lynn. Thanks for visiting and letting me know.


  3. Anna, this such a beautiful reminder that setting Jesus before our mission field is the Way of Jesus. Only He has the power to save souls. My prayer for my adult children and many lost souls, has been for them to hear Jesus call their name, as in Isaiah 43. “I have called you by name, you are mine.” The results of that simple prayer has borne miraculous results. You’re are doing such a wonderful job of being obedient and plunging the depths of Gid’s Word, and He is rewarding you with insight and power in sharing.


    1. What a wonderful verse to pray over your loved ones, Debbie. It gives such confidence to pray His Word, doesn’t it? Yes, only God can…we just get to join Him in the fun and adventure of doing His will in our lives, falling and standing back up again! Thanks so much for your encouraging words, Debbie and for nudging me as you have.


  4. Anna, this also speaks to me of our desire to set the Lord ever before us as we live and breathe and have our being in Him. Then we become the Bible that others ‘read’ even if they would not want to break open a copy of Scripture for themselves. An awesome privilege and responsibility! Yet if our focus rests predominantly on Jesus, we can let go of trying to guess or assess how well (or otherwise) we might be doing, and leave the results to Him.

    We affect and influence others so much more than we know, and that’s how it should be as we allow Holy Spirit to anoint, equip and flow naturally through the living channels we become as Christ followers. Most days I feel more like a faltering candlewick than a firecracker for Jesus! But all He asks is our willingness to let Him live out His purposes through us, in small ways and large. May you stay on fire as you continue to glow brightly, my friend! xo


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