Imagine finding yourself sitting in a small dark windowless room…..void of all light, completely black. You can not see anything in that room and as you sit there you can almost physically feel the weight of the darkness as it surrounds you. Then you realize that you are holding a candle in one hand and a match in the other. You strike the match against the floor, light the candle and the darkness retreats. The light brings you a sense of peace, hope and joy. You are now able to find your way out of the room.
This world with all of its seemingly insurmountable problems; war, disease, famine, economic decline and each individuals own personal problems, can create a very dark atmosphere much like that dark room. Could this be why Jesus said to his believers not to hide our light, but to put it on a lamp stand where it can be seen by all? (1) I was privileged to witness one of those lights being used to dispel darkness the other day. It encouraged me, but it also challenged me.
I had to go out of town the other morning and as I was returning I realized I needed gas , so I pulled into a station. I went into the store and got into the gas line to pre-pay. I was the third person in line. The first person was a young woman carrying a small baby, next was a middle-aged man and then myself.
The young woman had counted out stacks of coins: pennies, nickles, dimes and a few quarters and placed them on the counter. The cashier counted them and it appeared to me that the man in front of me was becoming a little impatient. When the cashier completed counting the coins, the young woman left to pump her gas.
The man in line ahead of me now stepped up to the counter to pay for his gas with a large bill. The cashier rang up his gas purchase and started to hand him the change, but he said, “No, put that in that young lady’s car.” I guess I had misread his concern for impatience.
I watched as he walked out of the store. He walked over to the pump where the young woman was pumping gas and spoke with her. I assumed to let her know to continue pumping gas into her car until it stopped. The cashier said, “You don’t see that very often.” and I agreed with her. We both had witnessed a beautiful example of compassion. We had seen a candle lit in this young woman’s darkness by a perfect stranger.
As I walked out of the store, the young woman had just finished pumping her gas and the man was nowhere to be seen. I could tell that the young woman had been deeply touched by this strangers act of kindness.
Yes, it only takes one lit candle to chase the darkness out of a room, but what if all of our candles were lit……… what would that look like?
(1) Matthew 5:14,15