Archives For Strength

candles

I’ve been thinking about candles a lot lately.

I’ve always thought there is something special about candles, something that makes them feel almost out of place in our world. They possess a ethereal quality which no other light-source has, and yet they are at their core very simple. They have one job – to provide light.

Yes – you can get fancy candles, multi-coloured candles and scented candles. But a candle, at heart, is meant to give light.

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Candles, however, have a lifespan which is defined. It is something that no one can change. You can spread out this lifespan by lighting the candle only rarely, but in the end it will only last for so long. At some point the light begins to flicker, the glow begins to fade and the shadows creep in.

The light is extinguished.

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Contrast this to the Light of the World. Contrast this to Jesus, God’s Son, the light who stepped down into darkness to rescue us. The light that shines in the darkness, the light which the darkness cannot overcome.

Sometimes it can feel as if the light of God is flickering in our lives, barely visible among the shadows. Sometimes it can feel as if the shadows are winning, as if they are enveloping the light for good.

But the beautiful truth of Jesus is that his light, his hope, his strength, will never go out. The darkness cannot extinguish it. No storm, wave or attack can overcome his light.

The light wins. Always.

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“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.

“From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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It’s funny (or at least I find it funny) that the Kingdom of God is, at times, so backwards. Think about it:

The Saviour of the World born in a manger. If the Duke and Duchess and Cambridge have a child, I can guarantee they won’t nip off to the nearest stables to make sure the heir to the throne is born there. But in God’s backward Kingdom, Jesus was born in a stable.

The Creator of the Earth knows each one of us by name, and longs to be in close relationship with us. Steve Jobs pioneered some of the greatest technological advances of our time. But when he was alive, he didn’t know my name. He probably didn’t want to either. And I would not have been able to simply call out to him, and have him answer me, even on an iPhone. But in God’s backward Kingdom, He knows us despite his awesome size – indeed, because of his awesome size – and loves nothing more than when we call out to Him.

In God’s eyes, when we are weak we are strong. The world urges us – dares us almost – to do things by our own strength, to rely on our capabilities to achieve milestones by which we are judged. Power, money, success, position – the world tells us that if we don’t achieve these, we are nothing. But in God’s Kingdom, the first will be last and the last will be first. Those who rely on their own strength will not reach their full potential, whilst those who acknowledge they need God’s strength will flourish.

It’s a pretty backwards way of looking at things. And as people who live in God’s light and love, the challenge is how we live backwards(ly). How do we reflect God’s backwards love in our worlds? There’s no formulaic answer to this question, as is so often the case with God. Each individual has their own ways and opportunities to live backwards(ly). Sometimes it’s the big things, the big decisions. And sometimes it’s the little things, the little decisions.

But one thing is for sure: a life lived backwards(ly) is a beautiful thing.

*Backwards(ly) clearly isn’t a word.