by Nan Corbitt Allen
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NIV).
We couldn’t have found a better light show if we had been in New York City, on the mall in Washington D.C. or, on Main Street at Disney World.
On July 4th last year, we were with our sons and their families in a suburban Nashville subdivision. Just after dark we began feeling the percussive presence of fireworks, so we went out into the street to watch. The subdivisions in this area are back-to-back, side-to-side and end-to-end. In fact, it’s hard to tell where one neighborhood starts and the others begin.
That night, at the end of Independence Day, every neighborhood had its own fireworks show…and it seemed that each neighborhood was trying to outdo the next. For us, it meant standing in the middle of the street and witnessing a 360-degree display that lasted more than an hour. We got dizzy spinning to see them all.
But it also seemed that night that God was not to be outdone. In fact, He launched His own show in the midst of it with lightning streaking and thunder roaring. It was almost as though the Almighty was answering Man’s display–reminding us that He is Master of all light. It was amazing—truly the best fireworks display I’ve ever witnessed!
Finally, we got tired of looking up and decided to call it a night. Then I noticed hovering just above knee level the most awe-inspiring light show of the evening. A single tiny firefly was blinking and weaving around the mailbox. At first, I thought that he was confused and disoriented by his competition. Then I wondered if maybe he was trying to outshine the other displays. Or was he just “doing his thing” not caring if anyone noticed him or not?
I know how it feels to try and compete in a world of brilliant and talented “lights.” I too-often compare myself to others. Most of the time I pout about my inability to outshine them. Occasionally, I’ll gain the courage to put my light out there and see if I’ll measure up. But I know that what God has called me to do is to be like the firefly and shine as I have been equipped, regardless of the competition.
Jesus was teaching what is called the “Sermon on the Mount” to a group of people who may have felt the same about themselves— ordinary and forgettable. To these He said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15 NIV).
We were created to reflect the glory of God. The light we shine is not a light of our making, but a reflection of His presence in us. One small light surrounded by darkness easily stands out. Many small lights together will light up the darkness around them.
Remember the song “This Little Light of Mine”? Its simple message still lights up my heart every time those feelings of insecurity creep in. Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m going to let it shine.
Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made. Isaiah 43:7-8 NASB
About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.
Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.
Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Join the conversation: Have you ever felt insignificant compared to others?