I once watched my Boy Scout brother in the back yard attempting to get sparks out of flint and steel. He had gathered a small pile of dead leaves and twigs and was determined to burn them. I watched as he laboriously struck the flint and steel. At first he'd strike and nothing would happen. But after a great deal of effort he began to get the hang of it and small, fleeting sparks appeared. The next challenge was to get the elusive spark to catch on the leaves and twigs. That too, took awhile, but finally the little pile of refuse burst into flame then immediately died out leaving nothing but a drizzle of smoke.
I think of that incident every time I read Isaiah 50:11. In that verse the Lord warns, "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." If you've ever been without electricity on a stormy, dark night and tried to navigate by the light of a single candle, this verse will mean more to you. A single candle doesn't give off much light and a spark gives off even less. Going through the dark, stormy circumstances of life with only the sparks I can make seems terrifying. On the other hand, the Savior promised, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). The choice is mine; Walk by the light of my own puny sparks or walk in the noon-bright light of Jesus Christ. Put that way the choice is obvious.
But it isn't just the amount of light that this verse is talking about. Trying to generate my own sparks takes an enormous amount of effort. I learned that from watching my brother. But to walk in the light of Jesus Christ only requires our submission to Him. More light with less effort!
On a practical level, what Isaiah has taught me in this verse is that if I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed or over-anxious, I stop and examine what I am doing and invariably I am trying to make my own sparks. On those occasions, I drop the flint and steel, take a deep breath, and let in the "Light." When I let go in this way and let God take over, things work out. Walking in His Light is so much easier than trying to produce my own light.