Sunday, February 17, 2008

Go light your world

Have you ever needed to punish a child for wrongdoing? Most of us have been in the situation at least once or twice, especially us parents. It isn't too hard when the child has been willfully disobedient. I remember an old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs was spanking someone under his care. While he's pounding away at whoever it is, he says, "Believe me, this is going to hurt you a lot more than it's going to hurt me."

That always cracked me up. But sadly, sometimes we must punish a child who is genuinely sorry for what they've done. That's when parenting is tough. We know they need to be taught, but seeing their repentance is usually punishment enough.

It's especially tough when they've committed this transgression before and we know they are probably going to do it again. I wonder if that's how God feels about us. We keep making the same mistakes over and over again. He keeps trying to get our attention, and we listen for a while, but then jump right back into the fire.

Tonight at church a young woman sang Chris Rice's "Go Light your world". I think she was singing this song exclusively to me. According to the song, there is a candle burning in every soul. We are to take our candle and run to the darkness to seek the helpless, confused and torn. "Take your candle and go light your world".

While writing for publication, it's easy to focus on getting our books in print; seeing it on the bookstore shelves; making a bestseller list, or just making enough money off our writing to quit our day jobs.

Most writers who write for the Christian market see their writing as a ministry. I certainly do. Yet at the same time, I waste a lot of valuable writing time. I am home all day, every day. You would think someone in my situation would be whipping out books faster than the stores could stock them. I am sure plenty of writers do. Not me. Instead of using my candle to light my world, I hide it under a bushel. Not because I'm ashamed of the calling the Lord has put on my life, but because writing is hard work. Have you reached that stage in your own writing yet? If you've made it past page 2 of anything, you realize writing is hard. It's lonely and frustrating and the pay's lousy.

Many times I don't want to write. I just think about that blinking cursor and that scene I left undone the day before, and I'd rather do anything than go in there and get to work. But it's the candle I've been given. Maybe your candle is something else. Maybe you face a classroom of fourth graders every morning. Maybe you are taking care of an aging parent. Maybe you sat at the station of a harried waitress this evening who wanted someone to smile and tell her they could see she was having a bad night.

In Matt. 4:10, Jesus says to let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.

Before I sit down at my computer and write that first word, I need to ask God to remind me of why I'm writing. It isn't because of bestseller lists or accolades from reviewers. It's because of readers who need a touch from the Master. It's for the weary saint who needs an encouraging word. It's for the sinner who's looking for a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

What's your candle? Where's your influence? God has given us a brand new week. Let's use it to honor him and touch the world around us.


  1. Teresa,
    Thanks for reminding me about my candle. I have been so distracted of late with family issues impinging on my writing space and I have been doing a lot of 'other' ministries like counseling, caring, nuturing others' gifts, but not focusing on my own. I am not writing for the Christian market though I view my writing as my ministry. I hope to show unconditional love to a world that often knows nothing about it.
    I love your words of encouragement and edification. Bless you for your lit candle!!
    Regards Annie

  2. Thanks Annie. I have to keep reminding myself it isn't about me, whether writing or anything else. Life is short. We can be a blessing to someone each and every day.