Perhaps you remember the story from childhood of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. It is one of the more famous stories from the 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights. Aladdin is a young boy who comes in possession of a magic lamp. Along the way he must battle evil influences and make difficult choices. But in the end right wins out.
I know there have been many adaptations of this story. I remember an old Popeye cartoon, a Donald Duck cartoon, and of course a relatively recent Disney movie, Aladdin, just to name a few.
There would be many angles to draw Biblical truths from this story. If you know the story you remember that Aladdin is faced with making some difficult choices. Does he choose what is the easiest or does he choose what is right, that is, what he promised to do? Aladdin’s choice is in perfect keeping with the following verse.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
Or perhaps we could consider Revelation 17:14. “These will make war with the Lamb and the Lamb will overcome them.” Right is going to win out. Even when it doesn’t appear as such, right will win out. Spoiler alert, right does win out for Aladdin.
But today I deviate a little from my norm. I just want to talk about the Aladdin Lamp. No, not the one in the story. There is actually a lamp known as the Aladdin Lamp. It is a kerosene powered lamp. I happen to own one. They are magnificent reminders of our past. It reminds us of a time before the incandescent bulb and electricity. A past that is unknown to most of us.
May I share the story of my Aladdin Lamp with you? As I do you will see that it is more than a historical relic that I own.
My maternal grandfather was a preacher in rural Winston County in the early 1900’s. He preached for a small church in the days long before electricity. This church could not meet in the evening hours because of a lack of light. Small kerosene lamps that were sufficient in the home could not produce enough light for a large room such as the church building.
Around the year 1917, my grandfather purchased a lamp that utilized technology that was fairly new at that time. The Aladdin Lamp Company had been established in 1908. This new lamp’s design allowed it to project light that would be equivalent to our 60 watt electric light bulb today. It works with a mantle much the same way a Coleman lantern does.
This lamp allowed the church to meet at night and was used until electricity made it obsolete some years later. In the process of time my grandfather stopped preaching at that church. And in the year 1974, he passed away during my junior year of high school at the age of 93. He is buried in the cemetery of that old church in Winston County.
A few years later, an older gentleman from that church brought my mother the Aladdin Lamp that Papaw Wakefield had purchased many years earlier. He told her the story of the lamp and said he wanted her to have it.
Many years ago my mother gave me the lamp and it is a cherished reminder of my past. Some time ago I restored the lamp so that it operates today as it did many years ago. I am humbled to open my bible and read by the light of my Aladdin Lamp.
We have so many conveniences available to us today that it shames us not to be better students of the word. I am reminded of the lengths to which previous generations went in order to worship. And now we complain if the air conditioning or heating is not set at just the right temperature. May we ever be mindful of our past.