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Posts Tagged ‘candles’

In our home, I have a reputation for liking to let as much light in as possible. Each morning, one of the first things I do is pull the blind up in our bedroom. Then I open the heavy curtains next to our dining table and the shutters on our kitchen window. And finally, I walk into my study and pull the blind up there. Usually, my husband has already opened the curtains over the glass doors that lead onto our balcony, so I can see the sky outside. And, because we live in a downstairs unit, I often like some electric lights on as well—especially in our recent dull weather.

There is something attractive about light, isn’t there? A few weeks ago, when all that smoke cleared after the bushfires, many of us felt so cheered to see sunlight and blue sky again. Somehow that natural light has a positive effect on us and lifts our spirits, doesn’t it? But light is so useful too, in all its various shapes and forms. Without it, we can lose direction, stumble over things and, in general, be unable to function to the best of our ability. Light is attractive. Light is useful. And light can even save us. Just think of those lighthouses that have prevented so many ships from floundering on the rocks below.

Recently at our church, we held a women’s retreat day, with the theme ‘Let there be light!’ Everything was set out beautifully, with fairy lights strung here and there and little IMG_20200222_092925131pretend candles on our tables that we all turned on at one stage. But my eye was caught by two beautiful collections of lights at the front of our auditorium, each containing a fascinating mix of lamps big and small, along with candles of all shapes and sizes in various intricately made candleholders. As the day unfolded, all those lamps and candles were lit, one after the other, to reflect the fact that each one of us is called to be a light to our world, whatever shape or size we are or however we are equipped to shine.

But we were also reminded at one stage that it is God’s light we are called to bring to the world, as we allow it to shine through us. As we receive God’s grace and mercy and step from darkness to light ourselves, we have the wonderful privilege of belonging to God and being chosen to show God’s goodness to the world, so that others may be drawn towards that light as well.

… for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 New Living Translation

At some point that day, I saw in my mind a picture of a huge throng of women, each carrying a light high, as they streamed from all corners of the world towards a beautiful, shining throne surrounded by light. And I was overwhelmed at the privilege of being counted among that throng and being able to hold my own lamp high, as we all praised God. What a wonderful day that will be, don’t you think?

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P1020237I think it began around twenty years ago, although I can’t quite remember how or why. It has waned a little of late, but did not take much to rekindle when I was given a beautiful amethyst one recently. Yes, I will admit it—I love candles. This very moment, I have one burning nearby. Why? Now that’s a good question!

I remember years ago mentioning this love of mine in a training group and receiving some blank stares and incredulous looks, particularly from the male ministers present. What is she on about, they were clearly wondering. Has she lost it altogether? What is so good about having a candle burning when working alone or when counselling or mentoring someone? Is this some superstitious rubbish?

Candles perform several functions for me. Firstly, they serve as a tangible reminder of the presence of God as I sit at my desk and write. Yes, I know God is with me anyway every moment of the day—but I can be forgetful of that at times. And as I acknowledge God’s presence in this way, I remember Jesus who said: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ (John 8:12) How easily I can lose sight of that truth at times and allow the old enemy to let the darkness of discouragement take over!

Secondly, noticing that small, flickering flame, I am reminded of the light I am endeavouring to shine through my writing and speaking. Even though it might be only one small, insignificant flame, it is still burning brightly and has the potential to shine God’s light into someone’s life. And, as Jesus reminded us, each one of us is called to do just that for others:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:14-15

Thirdly, there are aesthetic reasons behind my love of candles. I love their colours—beautiful purples, lilacs, blues and creams. I love the perfume of the scented ones—rose, vanilla, eucalypt. I love the ever-changing shape of the flame as it burns—darker at the centre, then lighter and brighter towards the tip. I love the sense of warmth and comfort candles bring to a room. In 2000, during a trip to Europe, my friend and I stayed with a family in the Netherlands. When evening fell, our hostess would busy herself lighting the many candles dotted around their sitting room. Then we would relax together in this gentle light, chatting and enjoying such warm fellowship, despite my being a stranger from the other side of the world. That warm, welcoming scene is etched forever in my memory.

And finally, as my candle burns, I love to remember the ones who gave it to me—my sister, a good friend, a mentoree, my  daughter, a group of women to whom I spoke. I pray for them, that they too will know the presence of the Saviour, the Light of the World, with them and that their light will continue to shine brightly wherever they are, today and always.

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