I heard the old Sunday School song the other day: “This Little Light of Mine.” It got stuck in my head–the way I think it was meant to. It’s been rattling around ever since, but one of the words oddly transmogrified. The word, “Light,” got replaced by, “Life.”
This Little Life of Mine.
“Little Life”–has more meaning as I (ahem) age. Is it my imagination or does every physician, dentist, ophthalmologist, and CEO look like they are 15? Here’s a telltale sign you’re aging: they give you the senior discount WITHOUT. ASKING. YOU.
I’ve reflected more on this reality as life moves on. And I’ve written on this before (Unpotential Realized)…but it somehow seems more central to my thinking these days. One of the advantages of the pre-social media era was that we could convince ourselves (the “small” ones among us) that we mattered–that we were somehow “big”–at least in our local context–whatever that happened to be. The other six billion people on the planet were hidden by distance and the infancy of technological connection.
With the advent of all media “social,” it’s crystal clear that there are lots of people out there–living lots of “big” lives–lives that seem to dwarf other lives–or, at least, dwarf mine.
None of this diminishes the “big” things in a life–in my life: a wife who loves me (warts and all [my warts, not hers]), kids who have turned out great (part of their greatness being the delivery of terrific grandkids), some very special friends, some energizing experiences serving the Lord.
But as time creeps along (or moves at warp nine–depending on the day), it seems as if life has become smaller. The significant aspirations of my younger years have bumped into the realities of personal ability and opportunity. And it is truly depressing to see one’s life potential shrink away. Oh, I know, Ben Franklin served on the Declaration of Independence committee when he was 70–and he invented bifocals when he was in his late 70s. But here’s one of the realizations of aging: frankly, I ain’t no Ben Franklin. (Get it? “Frankly?” Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
Trusting that the actuaries know what they’re talking about, and hoping that family history is somewhat predictive, and trusting that an Oklahoma twister will not yank me out of my shoes, I likely have about 20 years left. What to do with those years, given the aforementioned constraints of ability and opportunity?
This Little Life of Mine, Let it Shine. Whatever comes my way, in terms of opportunity–whatever tasks can be tackled by my feeble skills, I can still do this one thing: This Little Life of Mine, Let it Shine. My life can shine for Jesus wherever I am. The luminescent capacity may be limited, but my life can still shine. The opportunities for illumination may be circumscribed, but my life can still shine. It may only be a very small corner in a very small part of the world, but a life of shining is still within reach.
I am not saying that I am completely at peace with this. I am not saying that I am “content” with this ever-present realization of personal limitations–because I am not. I am saying that This Little Life of Mine can Shine. The hows and wheres and whens–beyond the obvious family connections–are all in God’s hands. But…
This Little Life of Mine, Let it Shine, Let it Shine, Let it Shine. Please, God, Let it Shine.
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February 11th, 2017 at 4:08 pm
Thank you, Howard, for what turned out to be a timely post. I am sitting at a cottage in southern Maine, looking out over a frozen, snow-covered lake. In days gone by, I would be out on that snow-covered lake snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. But, as you wrote, “the significant aspirations of my younger years have bumped into the realities of personal ability and opportunity.” It can be a bit depressing. Though I am very near the age at which Mr. Franklin invented his revolutionary eye wear, there are fewer and fewer days when I am so optimistic as to believe that I may yet accomplish something even remotely significant. But your post reminds me that it isn’t my significance that really matters. It’s the significance of the One whose light I reflect that’s really important. So, I am happy to repeat your prayer, “This Little Life of Mine, Let it Shine, Let it Shine, Let it Shine. Please, God, Let it Shine.”
February 11th, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Thanx, John. You have miles to go, yet.