Summary: Giving your Best Effort

Proclaiming His Majesty Series 2006

Shining Lights

Matthew 5:14-16

(Only a small portion of this story is true, I’ll leave it to you to figure out which part. The meaning however is everlasting.)

Last week Sheryl and I were spending a quiet evening at home, the children were all in bed and suddenly the lights went out. It was then that I remembered the announcement from the electric company of a planned power outage.

I felt my way through the darkness into the kitchen where we keep the candles for emergencies such as this. The dim glow of a lighter helped me to find the candles, all melted to various degrees by previous missions. I used the lighter and lit four of them.

Immediately light flooded the kitchen! The darkness had been scared away with the soft flicker of the candle light. "Let there be light!" I said and then spoke to the candles. "If you do such a good job in here then just wait until I get you where you are really needed. I’ll put two of you in the living room so I can see to read, one of you in the bedroom and one of you in the bathroom."

I was turning to go out of the kitchen with the largest of the candles in my hand when I heard a voice, "Hold it right there."

I stopped. Somebody’s in here! Oh, its just Sheryl teasing me for talking to candles. "O.K. honey, you got me." But nothing. I took another step. "Hold it, I said!" "Who said that!" "I did." The voice was coming from the candle.

I looked around to see if the voice could be coming from somewhere else. "There’s no one here but you, me, and the rest of us candles," the voice informed me. As I lifted the candle for closer inspection it was almost as if the candle came to life. "Don’t take me out of here!" It said.

"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You’re a candle. Your job is to give light when it is dark. It’s dark out here. People are stubbing toes and walking into walls. You must come out and do your job!"

"But you can’t take me out. I’m not ready," the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. "More preparation?"

"Yeah, I’ve decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won’t go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You’d be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be. So I’m doing some studding. I just finished a book on wind resistance. I’ve also just started a new one on flame display. Have you heard of it? It is called Waxing Eloquently?"

"All right then," I said. "You’re not the only candle on the shelf. I’ll blow you out and take the others!" But just as I got my cheeks full of air, I heard other voices. "We aren’t going either!"

It was a conspiracy. The three other candles I had lit were now refusing to do their work. At this point I was beyond feeling awkward about talking to candles. I was getting miffed. "You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"

"Well, that may be what you think," said the candle on the left. "You may think we have to go, but I’m busy." "Busy?" "Yes, I’m meditating."

"What? A candle meditates?"

"Yes. I’m meditating on the importance of light. It is really enlightening."

I decided to reason with them. "Listen I appreciate what you guys are doing. I’m all for meditation time. And everyone needs to study and research; but you guys have been in here for weeks!"

No amount of reasoning or cajoling would convince the candles to come out of the cupboard. Finally, I stuck my hands in my pocket and walked back into the darkness, where I bumped into Sheryl.

"Where are the candles?" She asked."

"The don’t. . .they won’t work. Where did you get those candles anyway?"

"Oh, those are some extra candles we had left from church."

I now understood.

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14-15)

Mitchell Skelton, Minister

Midway church of Christ

(Material from Max Lucado)

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