I love candles. I learned to love candles on long, dark winter nights in Norway. Lighting a candle on the dinner table or some tea lights on the coffee table made the room a little warmer, a little cozier, the darkness less oppressive. Growing up on the Canadian prairies where the winters were harsh and cold, a candle could mean the difference between life and death. If a winter storm stranded you in your car, a blanket, some food, and a candle could keep you alive.
Lighting a candle on a bright sunny day, however, would be unnecessary. The warmth and light would be swallowed up in the intensity of the sun’s brilliant rays. The candle would make little difference and hardly be noticed. The positioning of a candle will determine its effectiveness.
Jesus told His followers “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
In relationship with Jesus Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the light of God is within us. We are the light. Sometimes we conceal that light by ungodly actions and attitudes, dimming the light when we do not live in dependence on the Holy Spirit, but we can also prevent it from making a difference when we do not position ourselves so that the light is noticeable. Our light may add to the warmth and glow of a place already brightly lit with the light of God, but it truly makes a difference when it shines in a place devoid of light.
Do we intentionally position ourselves in the places where the light is vitally needed? What does that look like in your life and mine? Where do I place myself and my family so that our light will be noticed? When I watch my child’s sports team play, do I sit with those I am comfortable with, or do I intentionally sit where the light is more needed? Who do I invite to be a part of my social circle, my child’s birthday parties, my interest groups? Fellow light-providers or candles yet unlit by the flame of God? What areas am I and my family intentionally going to that need our light? Where could our involvement make the darkness less oppressive?
My brother is a schoolteacher in an inner city neighbourhood. Recently he took his students to hand out food and clothing to the homeless in their area. He was amazed as he watched the joy these young people brought to those living on the street. He realized that homeless people almost never interact with children. Allowing children and young people to serve these individuals brought light to a dark place that day.
Yesterday I booked flights for a family vacation during spring break. Today I cancelled those plans. Somehow I could not use those air miles to take another vacation just for us. Instead, we decided those air miles could spread more light by enabling my oldest son to take a mission trip to Colombia. Spring break could be spent at home engaging in some fun activities for my younger son’s friends who did not know the Lord and did not have the opportunity to take such vacations. Today we decided to position ourselves where the light could be most effective.
Where is your light shining?