Last night before bed I watched an episode of Texas Country Reporter. Do you Texans remember that show? Chad and I decided it must’ve come on on Sunday nights when we were kids, and watching it sort of signaled the end of the weekend. I’ve always loved Bob Phillips’ deep voice, telling me that DQ is the Texas Stop Sign and all that. If you’ve never seen the show, Bob travels around Texas reporting on neat things going on in all the small towns and big cities and places in between.
Last night he interviewed a couple who live in west Texas who have chosen to give up the conveniences of the modern world. They live seventy miles from civilization in a one room adobe hut with no electricity or running water. She makes all of their food from things they’ve killed or grown, and keeps the place running with none of the appliances that the rest of us rely on. They don’t have a toilet, for crying out loud.
Still, when I was watching her play her harmonica and strum the guitar while he sat with his ten gallon hat tipped back, tapping his foot on their little front porch, I was taken by this little couple. They were happy. They were in love. (She said when he went out riding she couldn’t wait for him to come back, watching for him “like a little kid or somethin’.”) And they cared nothing about money or anything that most Americans would think is important.
In explaining why they live the way they do, she said that she felt that the invention of electricity had led to the demise of our society: “It seems like when people got electricity and they started stayin’ up all hours that that’s when all the trouble started.” She said this with so much simplicity and such conviction that I started thinking, “Yeah. Electricity. Maybe that’s really a problem in our world. Look at them. No computers. No radios. No telephones. No TVs. Heck, they won’t be able to watch this story about themselves and they don’t even care.” I was getting all worked up about it, thinking about all the trouble that our electronics cause, how lazy we are with our dishwashers and our washing machines and our internet.
I went to bed dreaming about a simple life on the range. Then a thunderstorm came up. And there was lots of lightning. And there was lots of rain. And then our power went out.
And I got hot. And it was too quiet in our room with no fan. And I wanted to get up but there was no TV to watch. So, I laid there and thought about how great electricity is and how that lady is really missing out in her one room shack with her homemade clothes and her pickled beans and her outhouse.
It was only a few minutes later that Sawyer called out, absolutely terrified, because he woke up and couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. I felt so sorry for him when I came in with a little flashlight and he was trembling and crying. Something funny happened. When he saw that light, he settled right down. He gathered up his stuffed Pooh and his blankets and he cuddled right up with his Pillow Pet and, after I assured him that I would leave the light on, he drifted right off to sleep.
I thought of the little couple out in the west Texas desert.
I was struck by the thought that people all over the world, whether they live in mansions filled with the latest everything, or in huts with no running water, are just stumbling through the dark without Christ. That little couple is at peace with their decision to live without electric lights. I don’t think I would enjoy it much. But, it doesn’t matter if I surround myself with brilliant, blinding man-made light. It won’t satisfy my soul, even if it does calm a fear or two. All of us will have a moment, no matter how bright our surroundings, when our spirit suddenly cries out, “I can’t see anything!” And there is only one cure for that kind of darkness: the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
I pray that little couple has found Him.
My electricity came back on a few hours later. I think I heard the Hallelujah Chorus in the distance when my ceiling fan kicked back on. I drifted off to sleep thinking of all the great things about electricity, and about the goodness of a God in whom there is no darkness.