On Christmas Eve, my family and I attended a candlelight ceremony at our church. Taking 3 young boys to church is usually a triathalon event. By the time we get all 3 ready and out the door, we are in a mad rush to get where we need to be. This is not exclusive to church, though, as this is usually the scene anytime we go anywhere. Clothes are flying, baby is crying, boys are fighting, mama is stressed, daddy trying to get us out the door. That’s just our new normal. Going to church that evening was not any different. Not only were we running late, we also got stuck behind a wreck, which made us 20 minutes late. We walked our boys in right in the middle of service when all was quiet, and made our grand noisy entrance with our boisterous brood. Then in the middle of service, Joshua, my middle and most ornery little man, decided he wanted to play with his older brother. While we were trying to stop him he somehow smacked his nose on the pew in front of us causing a nosebleed. Good times! While trying to keep him from bursting out in a screaming cry, my husband rushes him off to the bathroom. Meanwhile, our baby William was no longer happy in his carrier so I had to let him out, against my will. My youngest is a busy body extraordinaire and gets into anything and everything he shouldn’t. When my husband returned with Josh, this sneaky little one took off towards the back of the church so my husband then had to go run and corner that little munchkin. What.a.night. Just writing this makes me want to pull my hair out, so you can only imagine how we felt in the moment. All we could do was look at each other and laugh…and keep laughing…and then compose ourselves so as not to cause anymore disruption!
Despite all the chaos, we make it a point to take the boys as often as we can. It’s important for us to set that example for them. I was happy we made it there, especially on a night as important as Christmas Eve. I’m happy we made it there for my boys, but on this night in particular, I’m happy we made it there for me. We’ve had an especially tough year. For many reasons, it has been the hardest year of my life. One that would have been even harder to get through without all the candles in our life and this night helped me to truly see that. The candles brought many things to light. Let me explain.
During the candlelight ceremony, we each hold our own unlit candle. When it is time to light them all, we are instructed to light our own candle off of the person next to us by tilting our unlit candle towards their lit one. Their lit candle remains still and steady. Then the next person lights their candle off of you in the same way until the entire congregation is filled with bright candlelight illuminating the darkness. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It occurred to me that this is how life is, or at least this is how God intended it to be. People are like candles. They consume themselves to give others light. We’ve had so many candles in our lives who have burned brightly for us in the darkness. It is through them that we have been able to rekindle our flame. It only takes the light of one candle to extinguish the darkness, and we have been blessed with many of these tiny flames around us. And it doesn’t stop there. I realize now that being a candle isn’t easy. First we have to burn in order to give light. The burning can be painful, but through the pain, light is born. It is up to us to keep it burning bright not only to light our own way, but also for the person next to us who will someday need it; the next person who will find themselves in darkness. I want to be able to fuel their fire through my own the way others have done for me. I feel so blessed for our candles – our friends, our family, our church, even strangers have lit up our life in more ways than they will ever know. It is my prayer that we always be each other’s light. It just starts with one. And there’s no amount of darkness in this world that can extinguish the light of even a single candle.
If you also find yourself in darkness, look no further than the person next to you. I am sure whoever surrounds you are the candles that will light your way. Then once they rekindle your light, be the light for someone else. Let us also never forget the greatest light of all, our Lord Jesus. He will always light our way, if we allow Him.
I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.