Have you ever watched the morning get darker as the clock advances? Actual light levels, no spiritual or symbolic meaning to “dark.”
Last Friday I got to experience one of the more impressive of those moments, not eclipse related, I’ve ever had. It was cloudy on my drive into work, but the sun was out – no need for headlights even. I got to my office and went to work, about thirty minutes later I realized I’d left my phone in the car.
Stepping out of my office, I noticed the light level was more middle of the night, instead of early morning. The streetlights must have grumbled, they’d just got off of work an hour ago, and here they were pressed back into service. A blaze of lightning exploded, teasing the streetlights into a seconds-long nap. The first clap of thunder hit, windows rattled. The black sky turned into a violent storm.
Thankfully, I can get to my car without stepping outside…no need to cancel retrieving my phone. The rain stepped it up a notch, or ten, while I was in the parking garage…so I paused to watch. The one streetlight I could see battled valiantly against the dark, struggling against the light absorbing torrents of rain. It pierced through the violence, muted somewhat from its ordinary brightness…but it didn’t give up — a beacon to help others find their way.
Standing there a story from the trafficking conference (click here for context) I’ve mentioned the last few weeks came to mind…
Circle time is a part of life in the houses where the women in the ‘program’ stay. It’s a time for sharing, supporting, airing fear, speaking of doubt, and praying. Each circle time begins with someone lighting a candle for the women who are still out there, still trafficked, lost and unsure of where to turn…a light to guide them to a place to encounter love and understanding. They light the candle for the woman no one knows about and for the one who left recovery, left the house, often going back to addiction and maybe even ‘the life.’ These circles are often led by survivors close to graduating, or have graduated and are helping at the house.
You needed to know that to understand the story. Something else you need to know, on average, it takes seven or more ‘starts’ at recovery to graduate and leave ‘the life’ and addiction behind.
Mary (choosing this name since the houses are called Magdalene houses) was a victim of trafficking – prostituted at a young age and was ‘in the life’ for several years. She got the opportunity to live at one of the Magdalene houses run by Thistle Farms in Nashville. Her first time didn’t last long. The second time lasted longer, but she relapsed and left. After several starts…she finally stuck with it. Two years in and close to graduating, she served in a survivor leadership role. Standing next to her mentor during circle time, she watched someone light the candle for the women needing to find their way or their way back.
Mary gasped, her hand went to her chest. Wiping the tears from her eyes, Mary turned to her mentor. “That candle, you were lighting it for me. All this time, I never thought about that.”
Her mentor smiled, hugged her, nodded…and their circle time that morning overflowed with gratitude and understanding.
(The story above combined a couple of stories heard at the conference…something that was affirming to me was how many of the stories of love, hope, forgiveness, and salvation…all echoed each other.)
The mist from the rain drew me out of reflection on the conference time.
The rain still attacked, but the streetlight kept on glowing.
Eventually, the rain let up. The sun came out…and the streetlight rested.
Each one of us needed, or still need, or will need…someone to light a candle so we can find our way. Each one of us, hopefully, can say…” that candle, you were lighting it was for me.” Salvation or the return of a prodigal…our stories are different, but the same. Some have needed several candles…others not so much. But no matter, God makes sure His light shines for us to find our way to Him.
At the same time…each of us is called to “let our little light shine.” To shine and not hide our light under a basket (Matthew 5:14-16).
Storms will come – shine through them, they will end. Keep shining, remember the source of your light…He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Lay the storms at His feet – He will provide you rest…and through it, all keep shining.
The rain will let up. The Son is with you…and He will give you rest.
Shine for Him…there is someone out there who needs to find their way….home.
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” [Acts 13:47 ESV]
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. [Matthew 5:14-16 ESV]For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” [Acts 13:47 ESV]
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. [Matthew 5:14-16 ESV]