The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light to you…
1. First you will ask, How can I tell the symbol from the reality, and so know what things it is good to hold less and less, what things it is good to hold more and more indispensable? It is not easy to give the answer in a rule. But the answer no doubt lies in a certain feeling of spirituality and infiniteness and eternity, which belongs to those things which it is good for a man not to be able to do without. Those things which serve the soul rather than the body, those which serve the whole of us and not one special part, and those which can serve us longest — those are the things which we want to make more and more indispensable. Those things whose usefulness belongs mainly to the body, those things which help some part of us and not the whole, and those things whose use is temporal — it is not good for any of us to have to say, "I cannot do without these things. This is, perhaps, the nearest that we can come to rules; but he who lives in the spirit of these rules acquires a certain sort of feeling of the infiniteness of some things and the finiteness of others, so that renown, wealth, dignity, sympathy, comfort, friendship, amusement, life, stand on one side; and honour, truth, bravery, purity, love, eternity, God, stand on the other. These last he must have. Those others he can do without. The moment that he touches any new gift he can tell to which order it belongs.
2. But then you say, What then? When I have felt this difference, when I know what things I must not allow to become indispensable to me, what shall I do then? Shall I throw all those things away? Shall I strip my life instantly of all that is not indispensable, and live only in those things which I cannot live without? No; certainly not. That effort to cast away the symbol as soon as it was seen to be a symbol has been the source of much religious unhappiness and failure, and of much of the wrong kind of separation between religious and irreligious life. Not to give up the symbol, but to hold it as a symbol, with that looser grasp which lets its inner reality escape into us, and at the same time makes us always ready to let it go when the reality shall have wholly opened from it, that is the true duty of the Christian as concerns the innocent things of the world. That was the way in which Jesus always seemed to be holding friendship, home, nature, and His own human life; never grasping them so tightly that their spiritual meanings might not come forth from them freely, nor that He could not give them up when a higher vocation summoned Him.
3. And that brings us to the last question. How shall I come to count nothing indispensable but what I really ought to, what I really cannot do without? The answer to that question is in Christ, who holds the answers of all our questions for us. As I read the Gospels I can see how, little by little, Jesus lifted those disciples past one conception of necessity after another, until at last they knew nothing that was absolutely necessary except God. They began as fishermen who could not do without their nets and boats and houses and fishing friends and sports and gains and gossipings. He carried them up till they were crying, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us."
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.