I sat in an unfamiliar space with a sea of faces that did not look like my own. The only thing we had in common was our love for Christ, that and the fact that we had all chosen to spend our Christmas Eve evening in His house. My church-friend invited me to this church’s service since our church wasn’t having a service and something in my spirit told me that I needed to go. My schedule was free and my heart was open to something new, so I went… little did I know that it would forever change my life…
The pastor spoke on PEACE and said two things that I will never forget:
The promise of Christmas is peace.
The promise of peace is presence.
His words struck a cord with me with because I had been searching for peace for so long. In fact, I had spent all of 2019 in search of true peace. I was searching in relationships- platonic and romantic- and in so many other things, thinking that peace would arrive like a long-lost lover. All of my attempts were in vain and I only drifted farther away from the peace that my soul longed for and craved. In addition to the pastor’s words, his delivery method stood out to me. It was so unlike the style that I had grown accustom to… yet I could hear God saying that that was what He was trying to do in my life- deliver me from what I thought preaching was “supposed” to look like. God said clearly right then that He is not calling me to be the preacher of days past but that He was preparing me for something that has never been seen before. I felt a tremble in my spirit because I felt a revitalized desire to preach His word. Right there God again told me to tell my story, the story of how His unconditional love saved my life.
As the one-hour service was drawing to its end, the church dimmed its lights and the pastor strategically walked around with a lit candle to pass his flame onto others so that they, too, could pass the flame on until all the candles had been lit. I cried when it was my turn to light the candle of the young child standing next to me. He was about half my height and so adorable with his little candle but it was my responsibility to light his flame with the light that had been given to me. (Pause right here, reread that and let it sink in.) After lighting his candle, I turned and lit the candle of some people behind me. My objective was not to simply light one candle and then stop, no, I was charged to light many so that we could all have light. (Yep, reread that, too.) Once all of the candles were lit the praise team led the congregation in Silent Night. Cue the tears…again. I closed my eyes and swayed from side to side, softly singing along with my fellow believers. In between the words of the song, I prayed to my Abba. I prayed a prayer of repentance and then asked Him to continue to sift and shift me. In that moment, I “graduated” God from simply being my Savior to also being LORD God of my life. I needed Him to know that I felt His call and I fully trusted Him. I needed Him to know that I was listening and that I was walking with Him. I needed my Lord and Savior- not just one or the other.
As the flame from my candle grew and danced, I looked in the light and processed all that had happened to me within the past 30+ days. In that short period of time, my heart had been on a rollercoaster of a romantic adventure and it was now worn and tired. The holiday season is the perfect time for a single woman to feel extremely vulnerable and fall foolish to the sweet words of determined men. And let’s just say I played my role well. Yet as the flame moved, I continued to speak to my Abba. I released all that I was carrying in that moment and asked Him to change my heart. I no longer wanted to simply go through the motions, I wanted to actually do the hard work and follow my God.
So I stared.
And I swayed.
And I prayed.
When all was said and done, the pastor had us extinguish our flames based on the amount of time that we had been saved. To my own surprise, I blew out my candle with the 5yrs and under crowd. I had to be honest with myself, yes I had been baptized 25 years ago, but I didn’t really know Christ until January 3, 2017. I am, for all intents and purposes, a babe/newborn in the faith. I looked over to my young neighbor and saw that he, too, was new to the faith. Good; we can grow together.
Beloved, we have a whole day and a half left in 2019 and as we say goodbye to what was in order to welcome what will be, I am challenging you to spread the candlelight. Somewhere and sometime during this year someone lit your life’s candle- what did you do with that light? Did you share it and watch it grow or did you hold onto it for yourself, smothering it and inadvertently extinguishing it? Nothing is more frustrating than thinking you have everything that you need for a task, only to find out that you are missing crucial parts. And nothing is more impossible than trying to walk down a dark path with no light to guide you. Friend, if you do not have God’s light guiding you then you do not have everything that you need to complete your tasks and you are walking down a dark and convoluted path alone. Stop for a moment to be lit and then share that light with others that you pass.
On a related tangent I have just fallen in love with showering via candlelight. There’s something about stepping into a steaming hot shower after a rigorous workout or a long day with soft music playing and only the light of a candle to help me see. My eyes have to readjust to my surrounds and when they do they tell my body that I am safe and I can fully relax. I have found that candles are a huge source of relaxation and comfort for many, allowing them to tune out the distractions of the world with one flick of a match.
That is my prayer for you today. It is my prayer that as you think on the flame that God lit within you, that you would allow that light to guide your heart, while also lighting the candles of others. What God has taught and shown you this year is not for you alone to keep, it is for you to share and further spread the good news of a loving Father who excitedly anticipates the return of His prodigal children.
So take your lit flame, cup the light in your hand, turn to your neighbor, and share your candlelight.