Before I begin, “Piercing the Darkness” is also the title of a Christian novel by Frank Peretti. It is an excellent read that, along with his previous novel, “This Present Darkness” is written from a spiritual as well as a human perspective. Other than the title, today’s post has little in common with Mr. Peretti’s work other than being written from a Christian perspective.
Today’s topic might be summed up with yet another story, a riddle actually, whose author is unknown to me. While the basic premise is similar, I rather strayed somewhat. You be the judge.
It seems there was a man on his deathbed who had accumulated a great deal of wealth. He had been an honest and honorable man throughout his life. Now he was faced not only with his own passing, but the task of choosing a successor from among his three grown children. While he felt they were all worthy in their own way, he didn’t want to play favorites, nor did he wish to induce jealousy among them. After praying about it, he decided gave them a riddle to solve. The child with the best solution would inherit the bulk of his estate and assume leadership of his companies. He called them to his bedside, and handed each an envelope.
“Each envelope contains a $100 dollar bill. I want each of you to take that money and use part or all of it to fill my room. I will evaluate your solution based on two criteria. First, whatever you use to fill the room should represent how you will run my companies. Second, you will need to account for what you spent and what, if anything, is left over. The child who provides the best solution will take my place in my companies and inherit the bulk of my estate.”
His eldest child returned first. With a flair, he handed his father the $100 bill. He opened the door and motioned for someone to come in. One after another, people entered with flowers. The parade stopped when no more flowers could be brought in.
“As you can see, Father, I didn’t spend a penny!”
“So where did all of these flowers come from?”
“From our warehouse of course! I remembered one of our companies distributes flowers wholesale. As you can see, I intend to run our companies by bringing wonderful color and cheer everywhere.”
“Hmmm, you say you didn’t spend a penny?” his father said, “Who paid for the flowers and the labor to bring them here.”
“I… I guess the company did.” His eldest looked at his shoes. “I didn’t think of that. I spent thousands to save $100, didn’t I?”
His father just nodded. “Please remove these flowers.”
“As long as they are here, how about I donate them to the hospital auxiliary to distribute to other patients and staff? At least then I can write the expense off.”
“That should work.”
The flowers were just cleared out when the man’s second child entered. She had a box under one arm and was pulling a tank with the other hand. She opened the box and began filling balloons with helium.
She explained as she filled balloons. “I used most of the money on the balloons and the helium, Dad. Each balloon has a positive message and that’s how I’ll run the companies – by being positive and resourceful.”
Before long the room was nearly filled with balloons and the box was empty.
Her father nodded. “Well, you filled the room all right, but I can’t see anything anymore. Can I ask you one thing?”
His daughter’s face fell. “I don’t know. I suppose I need to get these balloons out of here. I’ll take them down to the children’s wing. I’m sure they’ll love them.”
The balloons were gone. In came the youngest child.
She smiled shyly at her father before pulling his beside table to the center of the room. She set a candle on the table. She lit the candle and flipped the switch by the door. Light filled the room.
“Daddy, I’m sorry I don’t have any money left. I bought the candle and the candlestick at a thrift shop for one dollar. But while I was looking for it, I noticed a young woman with two children looking at clothes. One of them kept crying saying she was hungry. The younger child had her eyes on a yellow dress. It was worn but in decent condition. I saw the tears in her mother’s eyes as she told her child it was very pretty be she needed clothes for school more. The girl nodded, her lips quivered, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the dress.”
“I couldn’t help myself. I stepped over and told the little girl I too thought the dress was beautiful. I said I know a little girl just like her who would love it but her parents couldn’t afford it. Would she mind if I bought it for her. Her eyes widened and she broke into big smile. She said yes, she just know that poor little girl would just love it.”
I took the dress and found the candle. At the counter, the cashier gave me a funny look when I broke the $100 bill to pay for the candle and then used my credit card to pay for the dress and then asked for separate bags. The little girl cried with delight when she realized I was giving her the dress. I gave the change along with all the cash I had to the woman. I handed her my card and told her if she was looking for work to call me. I’d find something for her. I hope that was all right.”
Her father held out his arms. “Honey, the light from that candle filled the room better than anything but the light in you will light up the world.”
* * *
This was not what I had in mind when I set out to recount the story. I can only give credit to God for this as it brought tears to my own eyes as I wrote it. While I have to admit, I generally like my own prose, I can’t remember ever getting emotional about it.
Not long ago, I heard a preacher say love is not about how you feel, it is about what you do. The young daughter in the story above demonstrated exactly that. Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment.
Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Love God. Love your neighbor. Those two commandments supersede all the rest, but how do we love God and love our neighbors? How will others see our light?
We are told not to put our light under a bushel but on a candlestick as did the young lady above.
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
It is often said people judge us Christians by what they see rather then what we say. They look at the example we set. They observe how we act and how we react.
Look around you. Our nation is overshadowed by a great cloud of darkness. God is denied, defamed and disregarded everywhere. Christians are targeted and, yes, even thrown in prisons for standing for what we believe to be right. Others are fired from their jobs for their beliefs or for simply praying to God. This darkness is encompassing us. It is suffocating our nation, but it has a weakness. That weakness is light.
Light will pierce darkness every time. Light dispels darkness.
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
Our nation can once again shine as a beacon, a light unto the world. That light needs to shine from us because we are the children of light. This is the light that will pierce the darkness. Return unto God. Let your light shine.