Derek Prince tells of a young Swedish woman named Barbara, who stayed with him and his wife Ruth for a period of three months to learn English. While staying with them, she told them a story.
Barbara was a pastor’s daughter and had lived a very sheltered life. But her friends at school had started telling her about some of the pleasures of life in the world, and she decided that she wanted to experience what she had been missing. She told her parents that she appreciated the way they had raised her, but that now she wanted to taste and see what the world had to offer.
Her parents wisely decided not to correct or criticize her. They simply told her that they would pray for her. And so they did.
That night, she had a powerful encounter with God in the form of a dream. In her dream, she saw two cities. One was a big, modern, beautiful city filled with flashing, glittering neon lights. Across the valley from the flashing city was another city of light, but this city did not flash and glitter. Its light was steady, calm and clear. As she considered the two cities a well-dressed, well-mannered and cultured man approached her and offered to show her the flashing, glittering city. She went with him, and he began to show her around. But the farther they went, the uglier he became. Soon she realized the man was the devil in disguise. As she considered this, horrified, she saw the lights in the flashing, glittering city begin to go out one by one, until it was in total darkness. She looked across the valley at the other city, and its light was as steady, pure and clear as ever.
At that moment she made her choice. She would pursue the city whose light never goes out.
It’s easy for us to think we are missing something if we don’t see the latest show, have the latest iPhone, go on every vacation trip imaginable, and so forth. And in themselves, many of the attractions of this world are innocent – though some are far from it. But if we let ourselves be enticed by what the world has to offer, we are walking a dangerous path. And once the lights begin to go out it’s too late to choose. We need to choose now.
Way back in 1979, Arlo Guthrie, son of the legendary Woody Guthrie, wrote a song with these compelling lyrics
Just one question still remains
To which we must respond
Two roads lead from where we are
Which side are you on?
Arlo Guthrie, Which Side, © 1979
Abraham, our father in the faith, was “looking for the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God“. That’s the city I am looking for as well, the one that is coming down out of heaven from God.
When the lights go out in the city of man, will you still have light to walk by? You can, if you have fixed your eyes on the City of God.