“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
Isn’t that how the catchy children’s song goes?
Its simplicity, its repetition, its swing-swaying rhythm make the tune impossible to forget. Yet few realize or remember that this refrain raised the hearts of many a 1960s Civil Rights fighter. It became their rally cry, their resistance refrain, their beacon of hope.
Fannie Lou Hamer belted it out as she fought for her right to vote. Ruthie Mae Harris and the Freedom Singers sung it as they stood in nonviolent protest against discriminating enforcement officers with clubs. Zilphia Horton taught its unifying lyrics to Pete Seeger and other social activists who chanted in the face of confounding prejudice and hate. The song even inspired the central sculpture (This Little Light of Mine) hanging high in the rotunda of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
Light is an uncompromising metaphor.
A forceful, powerful metaphor. A rousing metaphor signifying possibility, liberty, enlightenment, change.
Solomon knew this, which is why he chose the metaphor of light to edify you and me as we advance on our own journeys of righteousness.
Consider his words in Proverbs 4:18 (NIV).
“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”
Like the morning sun. Shining ever brighter.
This is the road we take whenever we march to illuminate truth to a close-minded culture or we walk to radiate Christ’s love through our hearts to a broken and unlovely world.
On this road, after all, the morning light is inevitable. Its coming sure. No matter the breadth or duration of darkness, those walking can depend on the impending dawn.
Even more, we can rest assured it’s an ever-increasing light. An ever-brightening light. The more it comes, the greater we see without stumbling. Without faltering. Without wavering in uncertainty or confusion or doubt.
Even in storms, the light cannot be overshadowed for long. Little by little, it comes to be a “lamp for my feet, a light on my path” because it derives from a source entirely other (Psalm 119:105). Not from within our feeble hearts. Not from our own strength, fortitude or determination.
But from the Son.
As each day we rotate in the direction of His rays.
Like Solomon, those who have travelled this journey for a while learn. They’ve learned to lean on “this little [L]ight of mine.” To trust that He will “shine” in and through us.
And you can too.
Just take some time today to experience the Light of Life who came to save you (John 8:12). Bask in His revitalizing rays. Soak in His beams of delight (Zephaniah 3:17). Submerse yourself in His sparks of spiritual vitality until you feel a song of hope rise up in you again:
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine…”
…and let Him shine you must because others need this Light. They need to see Him today.
And God is waiting.
He’s waiting to shine Himself through you.
How does the metaphor of light speak to you today? How does this verse encourage you? How does it challenge you?