Thursday, September 29, 2011

Worthy of My Lampstand

If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to put you under a bucket,
do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that you are set on a hilltop,
on a lamp stand - shine!   Keep open house; be generous with your lives.
By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God.
Matthew 5:15 (The Message)  

The lamp stand waits quietly in the darkness, surrounded by those who yearn for the light. The door squeaks open and a lamp enters, proudly believing he was chosen to shine. He knew his lamp was the latest in pottery -- shaped then glazed with an iridescent glow. But every time he tried to climb onto the stand, his shiny coat slid off. It wasn’t that this lamp was eager to shine God’s light; he merely wanted others to see how he shined. Pride has a slippery exterior, and many people believe they are exempt from service to others. They want others to see them, but have no love of Christ that draws the seeking to the Savior.

The door cracks open again while those surrounding the lamp stand become discouraged. “No one cares,” is whispered as a few sneak out the door. They seek a vice to drown their disappointment -- alcohol, drugs and eating disorders…

Back at the lamp stand the second lamp touches the shoulder of one nearby waiting. “Did you hear? Mr. Jones stole money from the church treasury.” Into the next ear he whispered, “Sally Sue is pregnant and not a husband in sight.” From ear to ear, the lamp whispers gossip that will wound and break hearts. Some true, some not, but each one unnecessary. The lamp decorated with happy hearts and smiling faces isn’t welcomed by the lamp stand.

 There’s still no light and the darkness thickens as the lamp slinks away to gather more juicy news. His lip curls in a sneer as he sees another lamp striding purposefully through the door. This lamp has scratches from those who rejected his light, mars from those who used his light to profit themselves, and cracks from others who told untrue stories about the purpose for which he shone his light.

As soon as this battle scarred lamp entered a room, a glow began weaving its way toward the lamp stand. “How will the lamp hold its oil?” the people asked each other. “The cracks will let the oil leak, and the light will go out.”

But no, he didn’t need oil in his lamp. He had within himself the one thing he needed to shine -- he had the love of Jesus. On the way to the lamp stand, the light spoke encouraging words to the tired, discouraged mother, patted a small, crying boy on the head, and made a rebellious teen laugh. These people lived in his community. Each one was important to the lamp. He climbed onto the lamp stand and began to glow. He had found his place--right where he was needed the most. 

Caffeine Jolt of Sheltering Light

When my husband was principal of a private school, early every morning he made routine rounds to the classrooms, praying for each student and teacher before the first bell sounded.. Awesome principal, right? Dedicated and sincere. But RB also carried the title of "Christian," and along with principal duties came the duty to let his light shine. And shine it did.

Each Friday morning, long before the students began to arrive, the city sanitation employees stopped by to empty the overflowing barrels of pencil stubs, scrap paper and lunch remnants. As the truck rattled onto the school parking lot, RB walked toward the truck with three coffee cups in one hand and a coffee pot in the other. On cool mornings the warm coffee was greeted with joy. On warm mornings the shot of caffeine was eagerly awaited. On frigid mornings, RB often invited the men into the school to warm up, and sometimes even shared a donut to accompany their coffee. Week after week, year after year, he served these men.

I would like to suggest that this act of service was as important to God as RB’s daily prayers for his teachers and students. The offer of coffee was a sacred light, a light worthy of a lamp stand.

Sheltering Light from a Riding Horse

My mother drove the several hundred miles from Pennsylvania to visit with me a few days. Like most mother and daughters, we love to shop together. On one of our treasured ventures, I dropped Mother off at the store’s door to save her a few steps. After parking, I entered the store in time to see my mother put a quarter in the slot of a horse a couple little boys had been trying to giddy up. As the horse began to gallop on its stand, child-like joy shone in the riders’ eyes -- a reflection, I would like to think, from a light worthy of a lamp stand.

Sheltering Light in the Hole of a Doughnut

He was “Grandpa” to many of us. Grandpa Arnold, though not a blood relative, loved people. Chocolate chip/pecan cookies were his specialty. His mantra was, “if one cup of chips or pecans makes them good, then two will make them better.” If he knew someone was going on a trip, he showed up at their door with a box of cookies just before departure time. A youth group meeting? Grandpa’s cookies were there. Many times when the automatic drawer of the bank drive-through extended toward the open car window, it returned with not only Grandpa’s monetary deposits, but also with a bag of yummy Magic Morning doughnuts. Is it any wonder these cashiers shared their prayer requests with him? They saw his light shining through the doughnut holes.

Invisible Lamps with God’s Light

It’s not the big, showy acts of love which have the brightest light. It’s the little everyday actions, performed unselfishly by invisible lamps and given without the need of acknowledgement, that radiate the greatest distance. It’s the illuminated, pure gifts given from a generous heart of gratitude and joy for the Savior who died for us. These sacred gifts can make you worthy of your lamp stand -- opening others to the Savior’s gift of salvation. That's the light that shelters!
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Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, Pam, for letting me stop by your site.

May God bless your ministry greatly for his glory!

Jennifer Dougan

LeAnn said...

That was a very lovely post. I loved the analogy. It was a great story. You are truly blessed with a wonderful husband. I too have a very giving husband.
Blessings to you and keep up the good works and enjoy the moments!

Little Birdie Blessings said...

What a wonderful thought provoking post. One simple act of kindness is letting our light shine. We sing This Little Light of Mine in Sunday School as part of our regular routine. Thanks for sharing this Pamela. ~ Abby

Clint said...

Gonna let my little light shine! Sounds like you have a wonderful husband.

Jen said...

You simply write beautifully! Thanks for sharing! ~ jen

Bethany Ann said...

this is inspired -- and inspiring!! (it also reminds me of some people who are close to me, thank Jesus!)

Matthew Kreider said...

This is an inspiring picture of how God uses people to breathe life into humanity. Our service and obedience can even transform inanimate objects into tools of grace.

Thank you for the care and craftsmanship which went into your words. They're being used as tools of grace, too.

Ruth said...

Blessings, my friend.
I want to shine where he has positioned me. Great story of the way your husband shared coffee with those who we often take for granted.

A multi-dimensional life said...

I love these examples of gracious acts of kindness and love, sprinkling light into the world in such creative, tangible ways! It only takes a bit of imagination to find ways to serve others. You have inspired me to look for more ways to be a light to my community!

You have such a way with words and the light shines so brightly through the gifts God has blessed you with. Thank you for being a blessing to me!

Sharon said...

Pamela, this was a treasure. I so enjoyed your lamp stand story. It was a great allegory - and so very true. I was thinking this last week about taking my light out from under the bushel - and so, your thoughts really echoed in my heart.

Your husband - what a wonderful witness that man was. Your mother and Grandpa Arnold, too.

THAT'S what it's all about. Taking the Light of Jesus to the dark and lonely world.

This was beautiful. Thank you.


Saleslady371 said...

I see Jesus shine so brightly in every example here. I'm inspired after reading this, Pamela, and realize it is the little things that speak volumes of Jesus love!

MAG DURU said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MAG DURU said...

thank you for sharing. my heart was down the whole of last week, but what you wrote has lifted me up. God be with you always.

Sarah (Nikki) said...

you guys, your family is doing some incredible things. And the thing that really stood out most was how your husband prayed for his students. It makes me think of my kids...and how awesome that would be to have someone teaching them pray for them.

Whidbey Woman said...

Such inspiring, wonderful examples of shining for Jesus!!! Thank you.

Shoregirl said...

Pam, I love your stories - both fictional and true! Your gift for writing has touched me so many times -- thanks so much for sharing with us from your heart!

Jane said...

What a wonderful post!

Alice Lynn Alfred said...

Pam ~ This was so AWESOME!! I always love all of your posts ~ so thoughtful and intricate and full of the Holy Spirit. It really is about shining that love and light of Jesus ~ the more I read the Gospels, the more I see how Jesus was ALL about KNOWING people, in their hurt, in their misery, and showing His light and His life to them ~ it is His LOVE that will change lives....not self-righteous, religiosity....No, the love of Christ Jesus! PS Thank you for the visit and wonderful comments at my place ~ much love ~ alice

That corgi :) said...

Thanks for visiting my blog (Fear of the Lord) and your kind comment. I really enjoyed reading this; I want to be the kind of light that does shine and bring encouragement to others, in a smile, a kind gesture, etc. Great examples of God's love and service to others you shared here!!

enjoy the rest of your week!


Rhonda said...

What inspiration for me this I have been in prayer seeking direction, seeking more of Him than me....awesome!!

Jen said...

Your stories never fail to warm my heart.

And I must confess -- I used to want to stand up for my own glory. But after much refinement, I know now that I can only truly stand for His.

Lynn said...

Pamela, Your light is your beautiful gift of writing. You husband's, the coffee/donuts and prayers. Your story touched me deeply. My dad was a self made man, started sweeping floors in high school, became a route salesman, spent 5 long years in the Pacific after WWII, back to route salesman after the war ended, and when he became manager of Albany, NY Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, he arrived before his men left each morning, just to say goodmorning to each. To encourage them on their day. Each night, he never left before the last man came in, no matter what time. Growing up dinner in the summer (busy season) was a family affair with dad, no matter how late. When my dad retired as VP of the company, he was stunned to find a line wrapping around the entire block. In this line where men and women who had worked under him at any point in time. Some as little as two weeks during summer. Each just wanted to shake my father's hand, to thank him for making a difference in their lives. Your husband and my dad would have been friends, I am sure. What a blessing both your and your husband are. Certainly "lights that will always warm souls for HIM". Blessings, Lynn

Jen said...

It is the little, not showy, unselfish acts...that point most to a Savior. Just love this! ~ jen

Charlotte said...

There are so many ways to let our lights shine. The important thing is that they do shine and that when they shine they glorify God and not us. Thank you for this thought provoking post.