Friday, January 7, 2011

This Little Light of Mine

My mother loved children.  Perhaps because of her own lack of self confidence and self-esteem she found it safe to be with children.  She blossomed with the care of children.  She cared deeply for their souls.  Her life can be told through countless Sunday School lessons, Released Time sessions and Vacation Bible School.  At 80 she was back in a nursery serving the “cradle roll” as she had so many years before in the basement of our beloved church, Salem Gospel Tabernacle.

There are photos in my memory of her with Sunday School classes of young girls holding their Bibles.  There were other photos of these same girls smiling in our backyard as she hosted them for a picnic.  Later, came leading the “downstairs” Sunday School, Released Time, serving at Camp and helping on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with the mission work of her friend Sister Jacobsen. 

Curriculum and music had to pass the Elsie theological tests.  She wasn’t a particularly deep thinker theologically.  However, nothing got presented that she didn’t weigh against her understanding of theology.  One of her tests was that the song didn’t glorify the devil.  She never wanted us to sing about the Devil being a sly ol’ fox – that just gave the devil too much credit.  Nevertheless, I learned this ditty and occasionally someone would let us sing it.


I love Sunday School choruses.  I wonder if children today know what they are missing not being able to sing “Deep and Wide” with the motions.  Or do they know what it is like to “fly o’er the enemy” and be in the “Lord’s ar-me, Yes Sir.”  I guess they don't climb sunshine mountain where the heavenly breezes blow anymore either. One of the songs that we sang a lot was “This little light of mine, I’m goin’ let it shine.”  Even though it had a verse that sort of glorified the devil by saying we won’t let Satan blow out our light, it passed the Elsie’s theology test.  I know the song is going through your head.  Be careful, if you sing it, it will get in your head all day J!  But that might not be so bad. 

I’m sure you’ve seen the video.  If you haven’t you can see it here.  Ted Williams, the man with the God given gift of a golden voice.  Imagine all the people that passed this formerly homeless man and laughed at his cardboard sign.  While I always try to give to the homeless when I can, I probably would have chuckled inside at the sign.  I would have thought it was just an interesting way to get attention.  I would have missed his light.  I would have missed his gift.

Then there is the sensation of Susan Boyle.  Remember the audience as they jeered and laughed when she first appeared on the stage.  The judge’s sarcasm and skepticism was blatant and obvious.  How easy it would have been to miss the gift.  I was listening to Susan sing on my iPod this morning singing How Great Thou Art.  Amazing!

Ted and Susan have something in common.  They both have a gift from God of a golden voice.  They are both like diamonds hidden in obscurity.  Their gift could have stayed under that “bushel” like the light in the song of my childhood.  But they said NO – they said “I’m going to let it shine.”  They held their dim light up until the world noticed.  They didn’t let the devil blow it out by discouragement or circumstance.  They didn’t hide it saying no one will care.  In spite of hard circumstance and harsh words, in spite of disbelief by those of privilege, in spite of arrogance, jeers and derision, they held their light out. 

Now the world sees their light.  I take hope in their stories.  I do not have the voice of either of them.  I doubt the world will ever know my name nor will I contribute to the world on the same scale as they did.  But I have God given gifts and talents.   I have a light.  I have something to contribute.  I can’t control who sees it but I can keep it lit.  I can keep using what God has given me.  And maybe at 80, like my mother, I’ll still be in obscurity.  But for all the babies whose diapers she prayerfully changed and all the children who know the Bible and know Jesus because of her, she wasn’t obscure.  She didn’t hide her light under a bushel.  I am not going to hide my light under a bushel.  How about you?  Where’s your light?

1 comment:

  1. Joyce, I was very young when you & your Mom were at Salem and have only vague recollections of her. But I'm certain she played a positive role in my life since I have nothing but fond memories of Sunday School at Salem. And I'm very grateful for her Light.

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