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As we age is it necessary for us to lose some wattage, or should we be able to shine even more brightly?
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Let My Candle Shine, by Jeanene Reese

This article is courtesy of Image Magazine
and appeared first in January, 1995.

    Several members of the congregation felt that we had lost the memorization skills of the past generation. So a group of teachers and parents decided to have a memory verse contest for the children. Each age group was given specific verses that were considered age appropriate.

    The group planning the event was surprised when several 3-4 year olds decided to join the kindergarten through sixth grade classes. One particularly precocious three year old, named Chris, stood out immediately.

    He had memorized a verse that was assigned to some of the third and fourth graders, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

    When it was Chris' turn to give his memory verse he stood proudly before the congregation. With a big smile on his face, his shoulders thrown back, he announced emphatically, "Let my candle shine!"

    In the intensity of the moment, he had forgotten the verse. Of course, everyone enjoyed the precious display of enthusiasm. But many of us have never forgotten Chris' "paraphrase" of that particular verse. Without knowing it, he had taken an instruction of Jesus' and turned it into a commanding plea. It was hard to know if his statement was a request for God to help his candle shine or a declaration of his intention to shine for the Lord.

    Little children seem comfortable in thinking of themselves as light. They eagerly sing, "This little light of mine," vowing to shine through the whole neighborhood and to keep Satan from extinguishing their flames.

    Many of us have experienced an evening devotional with young people where one person lights a candle and passes the torch to others while singing, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going and soon all those around will warm up to its glowing."

    But do we believe these truths we sing so fervently in our youth? As we age is it necessary for us to lose some wattage, or should we be able to shine even more brightly?

    Images of light permeate Scripture. If we look closely we see a mirror image of light in the Old and New Testament. God is light (Psalm 27:1; 43:3) and calls his people to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6-7; 49:6; 60:1-3). Jesus declares himself the light of the world (John 8:12) and Paul instructs the church to live as children of light (Ephesians 5: 8-10).

    What would happen if we took this charge seriously and decided to truly to live as light? What would it look like for us to be agents of light in a world which is full of darkness? Several things come to mind:

  1. The workplace would be illuminated. In today's climate we often find workers who are competitive, suspicious, and fearful. With cutbacks and layoffs common, gender and civil rights issues at the forefront of concern, and technology changing the work climate, it is no wonder that workers often are less productive, more critical, and unable to support one another adequately.

        But Christians can bring light into this difficult situation. We can pray for our co-workers, offer words of encouragement, listen to their troubles and concerns, help in times of stress. These simple acts can brighten the office, schoolroom, or marketplace in small but significant ways.

  2. Our homes would be warm and glowing. In a period of history when many husbands and wives are estranged, when children are frequently caring for themselves, when even the best of families are stressed and strained, Christian homes should be radiant examples.

        Instead of always bringing our worst selves home at the end of the day depleted and short-tempered, Christians should hold in reserve a measure of light for those we love most--our own families. Or even when exhausted, the Christian has the illuminating presence of God's Holy Spirit to revive and to comfort. We should take time to listen, to express love and concern, to laugh and enjoy life, to rest and be restored, to pray and experience God's love.

  3. Our own lives would be more brilliant. Many will be tempted to think in terms of success when we speak of personal brilliance, but for the Christian it carries a different meaning. It signifies a life which is wholly surrendered to the Lord, one which is able to see both its strengths and weaknesses realizing that both are gifts of God.

        Individuals who live as believers realize that they must be dependent on the true source of light. This means time to spend with God reading his word, pouring out one's heart to him, reflecting on his character, and praising him for being God.

  4. We would be a lamp unto the world. Just as the covenant people of old were called to be the light of God to the nations, so are his people today. If we lived as children of light all those with whom we come in contact would see the illuminating power of God in us.

        The Christian practices being light to others at the grocery store by simply smiling, being courteous, or paying attention to the cashier or carryout attendant. At the gas station, the dry cleaners, the movie theater, the next door neighbor's we must be conscious that we may be the only reflection of God which people see in their lives that day. We may be selected by God to deliver his words of life to any of these individuals when the time is right. We are God's agents of light in relation to these people.

    If we live as light in the world we will find ourselves facing God and others like young Chris. We will have big smiles on our faces, shoulders thrown back, declaring for all who will hear, "Let my candle shine!" And he will.


HEARTLIGHT(sm) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Article copyright © 1994, Jeanene Reese. Used by permission.
Design copyright © 1997, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
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