Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It SHINE!

Two days before my second son was born I was blessed to hear Maya Angelou speak. Her visit to Bowling Green was brief and the opportunity to be a part of her public appearance was very limited. My dear friend who worked for student activities at the time arranged for several students from Wesley and myself to have tickets to her speaking engagement. The venue was a very packed Capital Arts theater. As we sat there among the other 300 something attendees, we were moved by her simple message, so eloquently delivered: “Let your light shine.” Simple but powerful. Let your light shine.

That was almost four years ago. Today I am still a campus minister at the same campus ministry. Those young and impressionable students however have since found their way into the world. It’s so cool to see how they each are living that message out in their own way. Just this past weekend I saw one of them at the Unity Fair held at the Foundry on Saturday. He now has a full-time job working as a community organizer, everyday living his passion to see justice come to life for the under-resourced and disadvantaged in our culture. It was so cool just to see that.

I know how pervasive and entrenched discouragement can be. So many times it seems like we cannot change anything, so we don’t try or we give up because we don’t see the results we want. The biggest temptation that most of us face each day is not about blatant sinning, but more in the area of directing our focus. We are tempted everyday to focus on how big the problems are, whether they are in our personal lives, our families, communities, or even the world. Our focus then magnifies the difficulty until it seems impossible, hopeless, and overwhelming. The tactic here is to keep our vision sequestered by an illusion of futility. That way the enemy doesn’t have to ever worry about whether we will ever step out for God because we have been cut down in our belief that we are even capable of making a difference at all. I believe this is the spiritual battleground where God’s initiatives are often shot down. We believe that those big problems can only be conquered through big power! And we simply feel like we don’t measure up. What’s more, because we believe we are incapable of making a difference, we make our minds up that solutions cannot exist. Sadly, God’s answers to these problems often are never discovered simply because they never even had the opportunity to even be considered!

But consider this. Often the way God works to change things is through the simple and small act of obedience, lived out faithfully over time. The song “This Little Light of Mine” is about a “little” light. Not a flood lamp. Not even a flash light. Simply a candle. Something simple and small which cuts the darkness just by being what it was meant to be. It makes a difference by lighting its wick. Giving a speech on Human Rights Day, December 10th, 1961, Peter Beneson said, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” He had been living his life as a lawyer in Great Britain when he learned of two Portuguese students who were imprisoned for simply raising their wine glasses in a toast to freedom. Beneson was moved deeply and began a campaign to gain their freedom. It is through his efforts that Amnesty International was born, a movement dedicated to preserving human rights. It’s also like the story of the man who was discovered by a young boy on the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean. The boy commented that this gentleman couldn’t possible make a difference on a beach littered with hundreds of starfish. But very deliberately the old man continued. As he picked up the next starfish and threw it back into the sea, he simply said, “Made a difference for that one!”

What is your simple, small act of obedience? I used to think that God wanted me to change the world by finding the most dynamic examples of ministry out there and becoming like them. Now I know that God only expects me to be who He made me to be, and to apply that being towards those things that move me deeply. I’m not a British lawyer, but I am a prayer warrior. I’m not a charismatic leader, but I am a funny, down to earth teacher. I’m not an administrative genius, but I am a walking heart beat that welcomes everyone in. I am quirky, weird, a bit disheveled, kind of outrageous, very un-hip, quite excitable, and somewhat enthusiastic. In all of that messy vibrancy I have experienced a quiet invitation from God’s heart to leverage what I am (NOT what I’m not) towards those things that stir me deeply. He asks me to consider what I can do, NOT what can’t be done. And here is the best part of all: When we stop focusing on what is impossible for us to (God’s part anyway), and begin to live into that simple, small act of obedience that we can do, then we have allowed room for the Bigness of God to step in and do His thing after all! Kind of like the little boy who steps up to share his sack lunch; Jesus turns it into a feast that feeds a crowd.

So STOP fixating on what cannot be done. Begin to listen for that still, small Voice (God’s Voice) that speaks within your heart. Learn to focus on the light already shining around you. Learn from those who seem to know how to live in light. Consider the light that you are, not the one you wish you could be. And in the listening and considering begin to focus on the simple, small act of obedience that God is sparking within you. Light that candle. Let that light shine. And prepare to be amazed at how small the darkness becomes.

This is me trusting,


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