It has always mystified me how some people never get done what they had planed on doing in life. They get caught up in what is known as paralysis by analysis and never get really started living. The old Chinese Proverb that says “A journey of 1000 miles begins as a single step”, is so true in reaching our potentials.
I read a story the other night that really makes my point.
A few nights ago a peculiar thing happened. An electrical storm caused a blackout in our neighborhood. When the lights went out, I felt my way through the darkness into the storage closet where we keep the candles for nights like this. Through the glow of a lit match I looked up on the shelf where the candles were stored. There they were, already positioned in their stands, melted to various degrees by previous missions. I took my match and lit one of them.
How it illuminated the storage room! What had been a veil of blackness suddenly radiated with soft, joyous golden light! I could see the freezer I had just bumped with my knee. And I could see my tools that needed to be straightened.
“How joyful it is to have light!” I said out loud, and then spoke to the candle. “If you do such a good job here in the storage closet, just wait till I get you out where you’re really needed! I’ll put you on the table so we can eat. Or I’ll put you on my desk so I can read”. I took down the lit candle, “I think I’ll put you in the living room where you can light up the whole area.” (I felt a bit foolish talking to a candle—but what do you do when the lights go out?)
I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, “Now, hold it right there.”
I stopped. Somebody’s in here! I thought. Then I relaxed. It’s just my wife teasing me for talking to a candle. “OK, honey, cut the kidding,” I said in the simidarkness. No answer. Hmm, maybe it was the wind. I took another step.
“Hold it, I said!” There was that voice again. My hands began to sweat. “Who said that?” “I did.” The voice was near my hand. “Who are you? What are you?”
“I’m a candle.” I looked at the candle I was holding. It was burning a strong, golden flame. It was red and sat on a heavy wooden candle holder that had a firm handle.
I looked around once more to see if the voice could be coming from another source. “There’s no one here but you and me,” the voice informed me.
I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. You won’t believe what I saw. There was a tiny face in the wax. (I told you you wouldn’t believe me.) Not just a wax face that someone had carved, but a moving, functioning, fleshlike face full of expression and life.
“Don’t take me out of here!” “What?” “I said, Don’t take me out of this room.”
“What do you mean? I have to take you out. You’re a candle. You job is to give light and joy to others. It’s dark and scary out there. People are stubbing their toes and walking into walls. You have to come out and light up the place!”
“But you can’t take me out. I’m not ready.” The candle explained with pleading eyes. “I need more preparation.” I couldn’t believe my ears. “More preparation?”
“Yeah, I’ve decided I need to research 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. So I’m doing some studying. I just finished a book on wind resistance, I’m in the middle of a great series of tapes on wick build-up and conservation—and I’m reading the new bestseller on flame display. Have you heard of it?”
“No,” I answered.
“You might like it. It’s called Waxing Eloquently.”
“That really sounds inter—” I caught myself. What am I doing? I’m in here conversing with a candle while my wife is out there in the darkness!
“All right then, I said. “You’re not the only candle on the shelf” as I blew the candle out!
As Max De Pree said, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
<strong>So step out and begin letting your light shine.</strong>