Shine Bright

Photo by nationalgeographic.com
Photo by science.nationalgeographic.com

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
 – Matthew 5:16

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…- Philippians 2:14-15

I’ve been considering what it means to shine. Candles burn a wick in order to provide light. Lacking understanding in this arena, I turn to ScienceIQ.com for this explanation:

When you light the wick on a candle, the heat melts the wax in the wick and at the top of the candle. This liquid wax is drawn up the wick by capillary action, getting hotter and hotter until it turns into a gas. This gas mixes with oxygen in the air and is ignited by the flame that melted the wax in the first place. The heat of the flame melts more wax and this wax too is drawn up the wick. Then the whole process repeats itself until all the wax has been burnt.

So why does a candle need a wick? If you try to light a lump of wax you can melt the wax but that is just about all that happens. The wick does the important job of keeping the molten wax in the heat of the flame long enough to vaporize. Liquid wax does not burn. Wax has to be in its gaseous state before it will ignite and burn. If you look at the wick of a candle that has already been used you will see that it is all burnt and black. What you are seeing is loose, powdery carbon and soot, held together by the wax that was traveling up the wick when it was blown out.

Now you know. See, the candle stays lit if the wick burns. And that takes a flame, which uses gaseous wax as fuel.  The flame, though bright and beautiful, is temporary unless the fuel keeps coming.  With a candle, it’s a finite operation. Even PartyLite knows this.

Stars, however, can burn for millions of years. But eventually, even stars go out.  Their fuel source, often hydrogen, runs dry. They pass through several processes – red giant, planetary nebula, white dwarf, then finally a black dwarf.  That star, whose light traveled light years for us to glimpse its pinprick light, will someday go dark.

Which begs the question:  why shine at all?  Is it even worth it? Because you know what?  It costs something to shine.  Shining means something must burn.  Shining requires fuel of some sort.  What sort of fuel stokes the fire? As Christians, we know God covers misunderstandings.  He fights for us.  He heals our diseases and soothes our broken hearts. The hope we have within us doesn’t disappoint. It never runs out, either. As our hurts and dashed plans get consumed in the furnace of His love, our love for God and others glow ever brighter. I think surrendering the pain to Christ allows it to be turned into something useful. That, friends, allows us to get up and shine again and again and again, despite what each day brings.


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