by Mick Schatz
ROSCOMMON, MI – Some of my fondest memories from childhood come from the dark nights in the summertime when we would have a hotdog roast over an open fire. We would roast or usually burn plump juicy hotdogs as well as marshmallows and s’mores, and our hands and face would get really messy and sticky. It was the best!
We would cut the branches off the palmetto bushes and use them roasting sticks. As we finished-up eating we would take the sticks, put the pointy end in the fire and let it get glowing hot. We would then run around the yard with our stick lights making shapes and circles in the air just like sparklers on the 4th of July.
My dad would always pull-out his harmonica and play gospel songs or whatever came into his head. Inevitably he would play “This Little Light of Mine” as we were playing with our fire sticks and trying to catch lightning bugs. Living in the country, away from the city lights, the darkness could be so thick you could feel it. The intense darkness made the stars, our fire pit, ,fire sticks and even the lightning bugs extremely visible and bright. Even the smallest ember that would escape from the fire could be easily seen floating high into the dark night.
At the time, I didn’t really think about the appropriateness of my dad playing and singing “This Little Light of Mine” against the backdrop of our fire sticks and the darkness. Here, in 2021 that song has taken on a renewed importance and mandate for me. In this current culture or you may call it “This Present Darkness” (also a book title), it’s easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed by the darkness. It can lead to feelings of futility and ineffectiveness in our perceived inability to shine bright enough to make a difference. However, the same Jesus who identifies Himself as the Light of the world wants to shine through me.
No matter how limited I consider my influence or my little light to be, Jesus says SHINE! Matthew 5:14-16 says this:
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
My mission is to SHINE! No matter how little or big my sphere of influence. As a child of God, my mission is to SHINE - at home, at work, at church, at play, on social media - in every context. Just SHINE so everyone will see Jesus and give Him the glory. When we love and value our neighbor no matter their race, religion or political preference, we SHINE!
The darker the night, the brighter the day. You may feel your light is not very effective - don’t underestimate the LIGHT of the world! Just be faithful to SHINE. I believe as individuals and as members of the body of Christ (the church) we have the greatest opportunity to SHINE brighter than we ever have had in recent history. In Christ, we are the light of the world. Let’s light it up one little light at a time!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mick Schatz serves on the staff of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. He is the State Director of Spiritual Enrichment and Retreats and lives at Bambi Lake.