This morning, right after I woke up, before I even got out of bed, I began to read the Bible. Lately, my "strategy" when reading the Bible is to continue reading where I left off last until a verse or phrase hits me right between the eyes. Then I stop. I spend the rest of the day thinking about the verse, phrase or idea that leapt of the page and smacked me in the face.
I am one of those people guilty of trying to read the Bible in a year. Unfortunately, I would often just find myself reading to get through it rather than reading to absorb it. I'd burn out in mid January and give up... not the best strategy. So, now I simply read until something really stands out to me. Sometimes I'm only one verse in and sometimes I'm a few chapters in.
Currently, I am reading the Sermon of the Mount; so, I basically stop after every verse. This morning I read the following verses...
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:13-16
I've probably read these verses hundreds of times in my life and normally what sticks out to me is the phrase "light of the world." We've printed that on a few walk in love. shirts in the past and actually are releasing it on another one with our Christmas 2015 collection. (Which is baller, btw.) I love that phrase! I think it's absolutely incredible that through Jesus we become the light of the world.
But today, when reading the above scripture, that phrase didn't particualarly stand out to me. It was a different one. It was the words "lamp stand."
As soon as I stopped reading the end of that verse, I felt like the question that hit me straight between the eyes was, "What is your lamp stand?"
Now if you've read any of my posts before you've probably noticed that I use one of my favorite phrases in the world, a lot - End with Jesus. It's even in the tagline of my website.
I believe that people can start their relationship with Jesus through anything. You can start with a really great meal at a friend's house and end with Jesus. You can start with an Instagram feed interaction and end with Jesus. I started with a great family and ended with Jesus. You could also start with a really crappy family and end with Jesus.
So, I started to think about this idea of putting my light on a lamp stand and that question kept popping into my head - "What is your lamp stand?" Where are people going to start in your life that would eventually end them with Jesus? Where does your light shine the brightest? Or, where can your light actually shine?
I think lamp stands can be a gift that we've been given, either a skill or passion, or they can simply be a place we're at - geographically.
If you are in high school or college, your lamp stand is your classroom, campus and extracurricular activities.
If you work in an office building, your lamp stand is the board room, break room or the carpool lane.
If you are a mom, your lamp stand is your home, neighbors and probably the aisles of Target.
If you are a barista, your lamp stand is the coffee shop or drive thru window.
God can use it all! He is powerful and mighty and if you follow Him and think He can't use you, then you are believing a lie! You are given His power and can be used ANYWHERE! I think the beauty of these verses is that Jesus doesn't say "Let your light shine ONLY on a stage, or blog or by singing." He just says to put your light on a lamp stand and stop hiding it under a bowl. I really love the way the message translation says it, "If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!"
How many of us spend so much of our time with our light under a bucket of sin, shame or embarrassment instead of letting it shine with the brilliant, beautiful and powerful light of Jesus.
Our lives on earth are so short, so small and we too often we spend more time under a bucket than out in the open where Jesus can use us. I don't know about you, but my goal is to do all I can with the lamp stand God has placed me on. Even when I fall off my stand I am not going to crawl under a bucket, I am going to climb right back up there and accept the grace that is real - the grace that I need every day.
Currently, the lamp stand God has placed me on is a pile of t-shirts, an Instagarm feed, this tiny blog, being a good husband and a good dad. It's running a business with integrity and purpose. It's going to volunteer at a youth group every week and hanging out with a group of 10th grade guys. It's, at times, speaking on a stage. I am going to use every inch of my lamp stand at all times to let the light shine. I am kicking the preverbal "bucket" off my life and I pray I never put it back on. I want to stand tall and firm on the lamp stand I've been given and boldly say "Oh this? This little light of mine? YEA! I'm gonna let it shine!!!", all the while knowing full well that it is Jesus who shines brightest.