Between Christmas and New Year God spoke to me through this song ‘Shine On Us” by Bethel Music. I woke up before dawn to pray with this song in my head. I was challenged to think about whether I am a city on a hill or a candle in the wind.
After praying and reading the Bible and then meditating on the lyrics, the key words that stood out was “fear and every doubt disappears when You shine on us….every dream comes alive when You shine on us…”
I was reminded of the moon that has no light of its own, but reflects the light of the sun. If we try to shine out of our own efforts we struggle and strife. If we lean on God, His Light will permeate through every pore on our body so that we reflect His glory. Then, we can’t help but shine.
The Numbers Game
The world perceives bigger to be better. A bigger church is a successful church. A person who makes the most money is the most successful. Nothing can be further from the truth. Keeping up with what the world expects can get in the way of keeping up with what God expects.
“The curse of Christianity is trying to kick the door down to make things happen instead of just yielding to God and letting Him make things happen,” said Alan Dunlop, founder of Friends of Africa Missionary Endeavour. Dunlop and his counterpart Heidi Baker who founded Iris Ministries in Mozambique have brought hope and the Light of God to thousands upon thousands of desperate people and they make it look so easy. They started off just wanting to meet the needs of one person and God brought them thousands and the resources to meet those needs.
In 2016, Heidi Baker held a worldwide Conference called Stop For The One to tell Christians it is not necessary to have grand goals of reaching thousands. Simply stop for the one in front of you and stop for the one Who Is The One.
Heidi is often laughing with joy when she relates stories of food multiplying, guns aimed at her not firing and hardened rebels breaking down and crying in repentance. At 57-years-old today, she is still in child-like awe of God.
For me, as a Christian author, the lines can sometimes get blurred as to how much of myself is shining through my books and how much of God.
It is good to be savvy about internet marketing, book giveaways, finding quality material for newsletters to keep fans on the email list happy, but am I rushing out yet another book simply to avoid losing fans because they had to wait “too long” before the next release? Am I more concerned about the number of fans I am accumulating than concentrating on producing a first class novel? Am I sacrificing quality for quantity? Am I writing the third book in a series truly because there is a powerful story to continue or only because it makes marketing sense to build a bigger following?
John 3:30 requires us to decrease while He increases. A life of decreasing so God can increase is a life with less strife and sweet harmony as we walk in oneness with God.
What Does Success Look Like?
Arundhati Roy, an Indian girl from the slums, whose fiction, God of Small People went on to win the Booker Prize and sell six million copies, never wrote another book for twenty years. She would not be stereotyped. She would rather spend her time on humanitarian causes and write non-fiction to further those causes. That does not detract from the fact that she still is a brilliant writer.
In 2002, when she received the Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award, she donated the US$350,000 prize money to fifty small organizations around India. This is not an easy thing to do for Christians let alone a non-believer, but she is wise enough to realize not to bask in this light for her personal glory.
Striving for accolades and money and then subsequently trying to live up to those ideals often brings about disastrous consequences.
Sadly, at the close of 2016 we have seen this in many instances. Carrie Fisher’s death last year revealed a life-time struggle with drug addiction. Despite achieving stardom as Princess Leia in Star Wars and being born into Hollywood royalty by having Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher as parents, it was not enough to fill the void inside.
Rock star, Prince, who also passed away last year is suspected to have died of a deadly concoction of prescription drugs.
Drugs also played a part in shortening the lives of Heath Ledger in 2008 and Michael Jackson in 2009, Whitney Houston in 2012 and daughter, Bobbi Houston in 2015. Robin Williams was at the height of his career when he killed himself in 2014. His star had not waned. He was very much in demand as an actor and highly respected in Hollywood. Yet there was such a despair in his life that drove him to commit suicide.
Year after year, those we put on a pedestal and idolize have revealed that any Man that tries to shine his own light is just a candle in the wind which is buffeted by the storm and finally extinguished with no real purpose in life. However, those who shine God’s light, become a city on a hill whose light can be seen even from afar and draws many to it for sustenance and direction.
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Who Am I?
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We chase success not for the sake of success in itself. It is for what we think it can give us – prestige, money, power all of which we think lead to peace and joy. God’s view is opposite to this world view. Oftentimes this sought after prestige, money and power are the bane of Christianity and not its boon.
A person is truly happy when he knows who he is in Christ. Just accepting Jesus as Saviour is only the beginning. If Jesus is not the Lord of our lives, we can easily be swayed by other dimmer lights trying to lure us away from our calling and purpose and confuse us about who we really are. Satan tried to do this to lure Jesus Himself on the mountaintop in Matthew 4:8 & 9
Matthew 4:8 & 9 : Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
We might be called to climb a ladder to greater heights or we might be called to hold the ladder to assist someone else to climb to a greater height. The height is not the goal. The goal is to be content with whether you are called to climb or hold the ladder. My short story, Canary In A Coal Mine illustrates this point in the form of a short story fiction.
Deborah Dunson has a ministry that encourages Christian writers. One of the groups she has founded is the Edgier Christian Writers Facebook Page for radical Christian writers who are not afraid of writing about the messy things in life, yet not compromising His Word.
She works tirelessly to review Christian books, bring them to the attention of a wider audience and even purchases some of these books she considers noteworthy. She is not a writer and does it solely to support another’s ministry. God’s light that shines from her makes her the very lighthouse that keeps many others from being shipwrecked.
Therein lies the peace and joy in knowing who we are in Christ and subsequently our purpose in this world.
The only way to become a city on a hill rather than a candle in the wind is to yield to God, the Light of the world.