In complete darkness, you can see a single candle at a distance of thirty miles. Amazing, right? There’s just one catch. You have to light it first. And then you have to keep it lit. The power of light to overcome darkness is one of the great themes of the Bible, but an unlit candle is about as useful as salt that has lost its flavor.
As we make resolutions at the beginning of the new year, self-improvement always seems to become a priority. So what can we do to make 2014 the best year ever? How can we use this year to become the best versions of ourselves? I would suggest that doing what’s necessary to keep our candles lit might be a good place to start. It doesn’t take much to keep a candle on fire, but a few things are required.
- A candle must have fuel.
- A candle must have an unbroken wick.
- A candle must be protected from the elements.
- A candle must have an initial spark.
So what can we do to ensure that our light shines steady and true in 2014?
First, we can make sure our fuel tanks are full. Inspiration and experience are the fuels of our faith. The regular experience and inspiration of the living God through prayer, Bible study, worship and community will make sure we have fuel to last the year.
Second, we have to take care of our wicks. In a candle, the wax provides the fuel, but the wick holds the flame. A good wick is clean, dry and unbroken. To bear the flame we must remain “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). Guard your mind; be careful with your tongue; be controlled in your actions; and preserve your capacity to be the bearer of light.
Third, we have to protect the flame. Just as candles need a shield to protect them from the elements, we need help in preserving our light. Surround yourself with people who are as interested in protecting your light as you are. You’ll never be able to shield your light alone. And never forget, there are people out there who would intentionally snuff out your light if given the chance. You know who they are. Stay away from them.
Finally, remember, a candle cannot light itself. Your light is not your own. It is God’s light in you. But it is yours to protect, to nurture, to grow and to share.
Life moves fast. 2014 will be no exception. In the rush to expand our influence, reach our goals, take the next step forward in life–or in the panic of changing circumstances and confusion about what to do next–we sometimes forget to keep our candles lit. If we thought we were rushed or panicked or confused while the light was still shining, imagine our predicament once the candle has gone out.
So in 2014 I resolve to tend to my candle first; to fuel my heart; to guard my mind; to control my actions; to surround myself with people who will protect my light; to give credit to the source of my light; and once it’s burning strong and true, to share it.
If one candle can light the darkness for 30 miles, imagine what a few candles together can do. Let your light shine and be awesome in 2014.
Happy New Year.