Television spots, motivational speakers, self-help books and churches resound with phrases meant to encourage and empower us during tough times. “Just be yourself.” “Change begins with you.” “One voice can make a difference.” “Let your light shine.”
But, how can a person let their light shine if life feels smothered in darkness?
A few years ago, I asked the same question. I was suffocating in brokenness — battling chronic pain, unable to work, and too exhausted from the the struggle to live to enjoy any quality of life. What purpose could I possibly serve, when all I did was exist in torment and inconvenience the lives of those around me?
Some of those circumstances have changed, some haven’t. But, one truth changed me.
The lantern isn’t the source of its light.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay (or cracked lanterns) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. — 2 Corinthians 4:6-9 (NIV).
Open the shutters of any lantern and you’ll find a light source at its center – a socket ready for a bulb, a candle waiting to be lit, or a pool of oil prepared for the spark that will set it aglow. God designed our hearts to contain a light source as well. Jesus.
A lantern’s job is to receive and project the light it carries. Often, circumstances threaten to close us off from Jesus’ inextinguishable flame. Shattered relationships, financial struggles, a troubled past, emotional brokenness, injury, chronic illness, diagnosis of physical or mental disability, loss of job or inability to work, and insecurities related to education or background can leave us feeling rusty, battered, and cracked.
The good news?
As the protagonist in my novel discovered:
“A broken vessel she may be, but cracks in a lantern wouldn’t prevent the flame’s Light from spilling forth.”
I’m just as cracked as any other lantern, and more so than many. But, in spite of my rust, soot, dents, and shards of glass, God finds ways to shine.
How is He shining through you?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your love, your guidance, and your Light living within me. Continue to teach me how to walk in your ways. Enable me to discover and fulfill all the plans you have for me. I ask you to help me be a blessing to those around me, as you have blessed me through other “lanterns”. In Jesus’ name, amen.