S.O.A.P.

You’re probably thinking this article is about next year‘s Bible reading plan because of the terminology. Sorry! I have a different take on the acronym SOAP and it has a very personal meaning for me. Most of you are aware I was in the United States Air Force during the early 80s. My career in the USAF was Metrology. Don’t get that word confused with Meteorology, which is the study of weather. Metrology is the study or science of measurements. For one year I was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, for technical school training. You could either take the course “lockstep” or “self-paced.” Lockstep meant you went through class the whole year with the same members. Self-pace was a good option if you felt you could advance at a quicker rate. I chose self -paced, and the year-long course took me about 10 months. I then received my permanent duty orders for Grand Forks Air Force Base for the next three years. During my first year, I was assigned a specific piece of specialty test equipment that needed to be calibrated for accuracy and functionality at least three times a year. But before I was able to certify or work on the machine, I had to go back to Lowry Air Force Base for a six week temporary assignment for certification. The program was aptly called the same name as the piece of equipment; SOAP is an acronym which stands for Spectrometric Oil Analysis Program. Obviously, the United States Air Force is about things that move around in the sky. This also means there is a possibility of those things which are defying gravity coming back down to the ground. Plane engines create the power which is vital for successful lift of the multi thousand pound mechanisms to stay aloft. The individuals assigned to maintaining all of the various internal oil lubricants would take regular samples and send them to the SOAP shop. These oils are placed in little Petri jars and then an electrode carbon rod is ignited and the oil product burns brightly, illuminating a dark chamber. At the opposite end of the chamber, certain light spectrums are captured by electronic readers which can distinguish light wave bands. The machine has hundreds of different light capturing vacuum tubes. Each tube was set up to capture a certain type of metal that was being burnt. Even though the maintenance operator cannot visibly see the particles and distinguish where they are from in the engine, the SOAP machine can. This multi-million dollar machine is able to distinguish the light bands for each metal captured in the oil, because they give off different colors and wavelengths. The light exposes what was hidden in the dark. The ultimate purpose was to notify the technician that certain parts of the engine were prematurely wearing out. This Christmas/Advent season messages are about how “Light has Come,” and how light, the Light of the World, exposes the darkness around us. The soap of Jesus’ light exposes any darkness in our lives. Not because he wants to embarrass or shame us, but rather he wants us to stay healthy and whole.

Consider this passage: “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7 NLT. In just a few days we’ll be celebrating Christmas and reminding ourselves that Jesus, Emmanuel, stepped into the world to be the Light! My challenge to you is, keep walking in the light and allow God’s cleansing soap to keep us in right relationship with Him.

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