We can learn much from Barney Fife of the old Andy Griffith Show. This hapless deputy who continuously lived in the shadow of his boss, Sheriff Andy Taylor, wore the uniform of a lawman, but not well. He was the show’s comedy relief, and the audience was encouraged to look beneath his uniform and see a twerp unworthy of representing his uniform’s message of authority. But in Barney Fife, we—that audience—can also see ourselves.
In the show of our own lives, we’re all children, trying to wear our daddy’s uniform. Daddy’s this hero whose heroism we can never hope to duplicate, but we continue trying to emulate him. That uniform represents a standard of service, and by our Father’s grace, we are continually invited to grow into it. Despite our mistakes, we’re given chance after chance, just as the God of the Old Testament did for the unworthy authorities of ancient times (2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23):
In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place.
We may doubt we even deserve this distinguished uniform God gave us to wear, but it’s not for us to deserve. This suit of light is a gift, designed for us to wear through life as best we can. As Paul tells us, we are part of its design—called to display it as the standard for human behavior (Eph 2:4-10):
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them
That uniform may not fit us perfectly through every stage of life, but as long as we continue putting it on every day we can help use its light to guide others out of their darkness. The standard it represents is lofty, just as Jesus told Nicodemus that he, the Son of Man, was the standard Moses raised in the desert for the Israelites to follow (Jn 3:14-21):
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
So we are designed to spend our earthly life growing into that suit of light for the enlightenment of others, too. That realization can help diminish any shadows of doubt darkening our own way to eternal life.