The candle that I hold in my hand is small and seemingly insignificant. In a room full of other light, it goes mostly unnoticed. But in times of darkness, such as a power outage, I search for its light to illuminate the room so that I can see.
In many ways, I feel like this candle. Small. Quiet. Barely noticeable in a sea of greatness. A lifetime of being told that I don’t measure up and am not qualified enough, strong enough, charismatic enough, or whatever else, sometimes causes me to doubt that the light inside of me can be of any real worth to the world – just like the candle in my hand. But in times of spiritual darkness and despair, I am reminded that no matter how small or how great my light is, and no matter what others have told me about my light, that I can shine the spotlight on the truth of God’s Word and God’s world so that we can see. At this hour, we all need to see.
So with this little light of mine, I first shine on me. I pray that God would open my eyes to see what He sees, hear what He hears, and understand what He understands. I pray that the Holy Spirit would illuminate my heart and mind so that through His leading I will do what He has called me to do – whether that ‘to-do’ is to provide for a brother or sister in need, march with co-laborers in the fight for social justice, or prophesy in Spirit and in truth against an evil regime. I pray that I would throw of the lies that have been told about who I am and who I should be, and stand upright in the knowledge that I am fiercely loved by my creator.
With this little light of mine, I shine on my family. I pray that God would use both those who are near and far to represent love and mercy, justice and kindness. Through our lives characterized by faithfulness and sacrifice, I pray that God would show those around us what it is to truly follow after Him. I pray that we would make the kind of choices that prove that our love for God and love for others is truly real.
With this little light of mine, I shine on my people, my kin – African Americans. For nearly 400 years, we’ve been fighting the same fight against racism, white supremacy, capitalism and dehumanization. Through the Spirit’s power, I pray that we would find some answers. Through the light inside of all of us, I pray that we would powerfully resist and counter whatever new-fangled form of oppression the system throws our way. I pray that we stand, not as individuals, but as a community of people with a shared history. I pray that even when our strategies may not align, that we would take up the God-given mantle that resides within all of us to secure justice for our children and our children’s children.
With this little light of mine, I shine on other marginalized identities – immigrants of all races and nationalities; those experiencing religious persecution; people who are differently abled; the poor and otherwise economically disenfranchised; the widow and the orphan; LGBTQ communities; and women of all racial, economic, and religious backgrounds – even including those who may not see that I am as much as a part of them as they are a part of me. I hold all of our multiple identities up before God understanding that we all are suffering in different and distinct ways. In spite of the difference, I pray that we would unite and stick by each other. I pray that we build new communities and new alliances, and together begin to imagine what it would look like if we were all truly free.
With this little light of mine, I shine on our country. Oh Lord, have mercy on this country with its roots that are rotten and foundation corrupt. Have mercy on those who continue to wreck havoc on innocent lives simply for material gain that they cannot take beyond this earthly realm. Have mercy on those in power who don’t give a damn about the people and only care about themselves. In spite of the beginnings, I pray that you steer this country on a pathway of healing and reconciliation, justice and restoration. Redeem our past, as awful as it is, so that we may have a future.
With this little light of mine, I shine on our world. People around our globe are suffering under tyranny and oppression. God have mercy! People are seeing their children perish before their eyes for the sake of power, prestige, and resources. God have mercy! Our governments across the world continue to play a game of chicken with our lives and are doing very little to address climate change, protect the world from nuclear war, and ensure that our world economies provide for all. God have mercy! Through your power, steer us on the path of righteousness. Let leaders across the globe who have been on the path of evil and destruction awake from their slumber so that they begin to pursue justice instead. With this light, I pray for economic strategies that work for all of us instead of a few of us. And I pray that those who have been trapped in cycles of oppression – whether they be in India, Senegal, Honduras, or right here in the United States – receive liberation.
And with this little light of mine, I hold us all. Each and every 7 billion of us. Not just for the next four years but for as long as it takes to see God’s kingdom unfold before us. And God’s kingdom, contrary to the empires of this world, is characterized by love, justice, mercy, forgiveness, and hospitality. There is enough food, water, land, and shelter for all – no one is hoarding, no one is stealing, everyone is content with the resources they have been given and generously gives to other. In God’s kingdom, our relationships are deep. The potential of community is fully realized. Our children our safe. Our elders are revered. And the environment not only nourishes but replenishes our soul. With this little light of mine, I will keep lifting up this vision until it is fully realized. Now my little light does not seem to be so little anymore.