I grabbed four of them. I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, “Now, hold it right there.”
“Who said that?”
“I did.” The voice was near my hand.
“Who are you? What are you?”
“I’m a candle.”
I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. There was a tiny face in the wax.
“Don’t take me out of here!”
“I said, don’t take me out of the closet.”
“What do you mean? I have to take you out. You’re a candle. Your job is to give light. It’s dark out there.”
“But you can’t take me out. I’m not ready,” the candle explained with pleading eyes. “I need more preparation and training.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. “Training? Preparation?”
“Yeah, I’ve decided I need to study this job of light-giving so I won’t go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You’d be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be.”
“All right then,” I said. “You’re not the only candle on the shelf. I’ll take the others!”
But right then I heard other voices: “We aren’t going either!” I turned to the other candles, “Why not? You are candles – your job is to light dark places!”
“Well, that may be what you think,” said one, “You may think we have to go, but I’m busy. I’m meditating on the importance of light. It’s really enlightening.”
“And you other two,” I asked, “are you going to stay too?”
A short, purple-faced candle with plump cheeks spoke up. “I’m waiting to get my life together. I’m not stable enough.”
The last candle had a very pleasant voice and sounded very sincere. “I’d like to help,” she explained, “but lighting the darkness is not my gift. I’m a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly.” She began a rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing.
I took a step back into the darkness and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet.”
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus, from Matthew 5:14-16
(I am grateful to Nathan McGuire who shared this parable recently at Streatham Baptist Church)