Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Don't Hide Your Light

“Men do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. They put it on a table so it gives light to all in the house. – Matthew 5:15 (NLT)

As I walked towards the recreation building, off to the side of the church, I noticed the sky. It had turned dark and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before it would open up and begin pouring buckets. There had been so much flooding in the area recently, and I knew that more storms might mean I wouldn’t get home. It didn’t matter, though. I needed to be there.

I entered the building, and an older lady greeted me with a smile. “Are you here to pray, or for the other meeting?” I told her I was there to pray, and she directed me to a table of women who already had their heads bowed.

I was new to the church and didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that an hour beforehand, I had dropped my daughter off at her school bus stop, waited until she was on the bus safely, and then went home and sobbed. It was her first day of middle school, a day we had planned for all summer. Despite her nervousness, it was a day we were excited about. But it was not off to a good start.

She was indignant at the idea of mom accompanying her to the bus stop. After all, she was in 6th grade now. So big. So grown up. And yet, I wasn’t budging. She was not going to stand alone on a street corner in the fourth-largest city in the country, where pedophiles are plentiful. Not on my watch. I knew there would be other kids there, but I didn’t know who would arrive first. So we fought.

She grumbled an “I don’t care” and rolled her eyes. I yelled. She yelled back. I slammed the door. Eventually, we got where we needed to go, but neither of us were happy. It was the worst start to the best day either of us could imagine. To put it in the vernacular, it sucked. Legit.

By the time I arrived at the church, I needed to pray. And I needed to be prayed for. “How am I ever going to get through this?” I thought. I wondered how much worse it could get, if this was already going on at age 12. Weren’t the teen years the worst? We weren’t even there yet! And as many of you know, stress doesn’t do much for most chronic illnesses. It’s the number one trigger for migraines and autoimmune disorders, both of which I struggle with. I was already trying to deal with RA and psoriasis flare-ups. I really didn’t need this. And yet, I wasn’t prepared to resign myself to the idea of my child becoming a “do it yourself” kid, who could get away with anything, because mom was too fatigued to fight with her. What was I to do?

As I joined in prayer with the other ladies at my table, hope began to creep back into my heart. I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me in a way that encouraged and yet challenged me. I could hear God’s prompting. “You’re asking her to be less haughty and rude … perhaps you need to show more patience and kindness.” I knew His voice, speaking through verses from 1 Corinthians 13, leading me to grow in love.

After we prayed, I stayed to visit. One of the women, Donna, shared how she had prayed with her children and what a difference it had made. Another woman, Esther, reassured me as well, pointing me to more information on how to connect with other moms in prayer. Gina, a single mom with a daughter in high school, told me she understood the challenges of having a strong-willed child, and yet hers was now leading other kids to Christ. Tina, a very fit and young looking woman I had met in Sunday School the day before, surprised me when she shared she was already the grandmother of a 4th grader. She offered to join me in praying for my child because she knew the impact it could make.

All of the women I met that day had come to the group with one purpose: to pray. Yet, each one had a different gift to share with me. And you know what? I needed each and every one of them. Just one would have made an impact, but in that moment of emotional crisis, I wanted all I could get. And when I got it – all of those women’s life experiences, strength, hope and encouragement – it changed the course of my whole day. I came away feeling supported in a way I had never felt before. I not only had hope, but I had an action plan!

By the time my daughter arrived home, I was in a whole different frame of mind. I took her to Starbucks for a “do-over,” where we began our day all over again, and we had a wonderful evening sharing about what it was like to now be in middle school. In contrast to the night before, she welcomed my evening prayers for her, and the next morning, we joyfully celebrated “day two!”

It is sometimes easy to think that we can’t make a difference. Or maybe we are trying, but we get discouraged and give up. And yet, if any of the women I saw yesterday had not shown up for that prayer meeting, I would have missed out tremendously. I would have lost something I desperately needed, which only she could give. Each and every person I encountered made an impact, and because of that, my life was changed; not just my relationship with my daughter, but also my relationship with God. In the midst of the multitude, I found Him there. Whispering words of peace, words of hope, words of love.

In Matthew 5, Jesus commands us to “let your light shine before men.” Our job is to glorify God, and the way to do that is to share what He is doing in our lives. Yet, it is so easy to cop out.

Perhaps we are shy and don’t want to talk about God at all, for fear of rejection. Or maybe we feel someone else is doing such a great job ministering to the needs of others, we figure we will “just let them do it.”

In the online world, it might be competition that scares us off. I’ve had links to my blog posts removed from groups I belonged to because they perceived them as “advertising” or trying to “steal” their audience. And yet, I am not selling anything, nor am I trying to take away from what they are doing. I gain as much from what they post as what I hope they will gain from what I write about.

We all have something unique to offer that only we can give. Unlike any other product or service in the world, all of which can be duplicated to one extent or the other, our life experiences are uniquely ours. No one can tell your story like you can. And I’m willing to bet that if God has put it in your heart to share it, He already knows the person who needs to hear it.

1 Peter 3:15 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” How willing are you to make yourself available to share your story? Don’t hide your light. Someone in the world needs it today!

Don't Hide Your Light originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.

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  1. I am so pleased you found hope praying for your daughter. I too have we real autoimmune diseases and fatigue can be a constant factor. There were weeks when about the only thing I would do was go pray for my children. This ministry has been such a blessing, not only for my children, but also for me. I am so glad that you quickly discovered the joy of praying with other mom's for your child. I pray you will be blessed as you pray for your daughter.

    1. Thank you so much, Vicki. May you be blessed today also. Be well!

  2. I have at times felt separated from God, and it is in those times that praying is difficult. Difficulty is something those of us with RA are able to understand.

    Sometimes separation ends by sitting down first.

    1. Yes, tough times can definitely lead to us feeling isolated, from others and from God. And yet, He never leaves our side! I pray that you will find peace and joyful communion with Him today, Rick.

  3. Oh Linda, I love this blog. It saddens me that your blog has been removed by some groups. I came across a similar situation on a group I was an administrator for. Someone posted about getting to church to celebrate her daughters baptism & someone asked her to explain why her daughter was baptised on Easter Sunday. The other admins felt the post was preaching & inappropriate & deleted it. It was neither of those things but clearly the ladies faith threatened them. As a result I felt I needed to take a stand & resigned as administrator but I remain in the group as a very active member supporting people as much as possible & sharing my own story as I feel God leads me.
    Keep writing & expressing so beautifully your faith & your experiences living with health difficulties. Love Sam xx

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Sam. I am a great believer in God's providence, and as such, I will continue to write as He has called me to do, even if I can only reach one person who needs a message of hope. I remember a time in my life, almost 20 years ago, when a woman showed up at a 12-step meeting and ministered to the needs of newcomer who needed guidance and support. No one else showed up for the meeting. It was just the two of them. I was that newcomer. That woman, who I've never seen since, has no idea that as a result of her willingness to follow God's calling, even if for just one person, she was instrumental in changing not only my life, but many others as well. I began this blog because I knew there was a need for hope in our RA community. Hope in something more than unreliable medicines, doctors, diets, etc. You and I share that hope in Christ. We know that He lives and God loves us because we experience it through whatever pain or difficulties we may face - and may I say, you've been through a LOT! I know that as we continue to share the source of our hope, God will use us to reach the lost and the broken who need Him. Love you, sweet sister across the oceans. xx

  4. Thank you for the encouragement! I have a unique thing to share and only I can do it.
    I'm right there with you in the throes of middle school. It's hard when they want independence as they age, but we don't want to let go. I'm glad God loves them more than I do and I can release those gripping hands to Him.
    Your #CoffeeforYourHeart neighbor,

    1. Yes, you are unique and special too, Julie! I am sure God is using you in a powerful way.

  5. What a beautiful post! Yes and yes. You write "Perhaps we are shy and don’t want to talk about God at all, for fear of rejection. Or maybe we feel someone else is doing such a great job ministering to the needs of others, we figure we will “just let them do it.” I'm guilty of letting others take over as well as fear of rejection (or not knowing enough). Thank you for the reminder :)
    God Bless,

    1. Thank you, Bibi, for being here! A couple of things that helped me have the courage to share my faith were: 1) the Bible says we are called to share what God has done for US - God never asks us to share scripture or anything else other than our own testimony! You can never know too little. 2) In his book, Billy Graham explained that he never felt bad if someone rejected the gospel, because it isn't our job to convict people of their sin or convert them to Christianity. The Holy Spirit is the only one that can change someone's heart, lead them to salvation, and change their life. We are simply asked to share the Good News...then we leave the results to God!

  6. Legit! I've had those mornings, too! :-( Linda, this post was fabulous because so many of us can identify with not only the mornings going terribly with a loved one, but the message of hope we get from letting our lights shine - Letting God use us as He sees fit and reveling in that assignment! I always know I can be inspired when I stop here, my friend.Thank you! And thank you for sharing hope with me at #MomentsofHope!

    1. You are so sweet and such an encouragement, Lori. Thank you for letting me know that when I try and shine my light, it makes a difference! :-)