By Don Umphrey
(with scriptural citations from the NIV)
“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 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 5:14-16).
Based on the above passage, the following lyrics may be familiar to you:
This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Oh, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.
This little light of mine,I'm going to let it shine Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
All around the neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine. All around the neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine.
All around the neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm going to let it shine. Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm going to let it shine. Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.
What Is Your Light?
Now that we are adults and some of us are in recovery from an addiction, have you named the identity of your light?
Many people would cite their major accomplishments such as the completion of an educational goal, recognition in their workplace or the accumulation of money.
People generally want to keep their mistakes, weaknesses and ugliness from the past hidden from others. On the other hand, though, a person’s light may include the worst parts of his/her past. This idea is consistent with what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
“He (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ “Therefore I will boost all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.’”
The demon-possessed man whose story is detailed in Mark 5:1-20 is a great example of letting his light shine.
His Demons Expelled
Set free by Jesus from the demons that had tortured him, he wanted to get in the boat and leave with Jesus and his disciples. The Lord denied this request and gave this man his marching orders, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).
He undoubtedly did tell his family, but verse 20 indicates that he took his message of healing to the Decapolis (Ten Cities). Many people in the Decapolis undoubtedly knew about the “before” picture of the same man who had been naked, wailing and beyond human help in the cemetery.
Now they were seeing the “after.”
What message did this man carry? It was not what he was powerless to do for himself. Rather, it was what the Lord had done for him.
Visiting the Decapolis
The formerly demon-possessed man may have served as a forerunner for Jesus in the Decapolis. According to Mark 7:31, Jesus later traveled there. When arriving in the Decapolis, “some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him” (Mark 7:32).
Did Jesus have immediate credibility in the Decapolis because of the testimony of the formerly demon-possessed man? Possibly. But this is not spelled out in the biblical account. The Bible does indicate that the formerly deaf man was healed and that “people were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He has done everything well,’ they said. ‘He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak’” (Mark 7:37).
If you have read my previous blogs, you already know that this little light of mine dates back to Nov. 6, 1973. That was the date I entered a mental hospital on the verge of suicide as a result of my alcoholism.
The Meanest Man in Texas
I wrote a book and a screenplay about a man named Clyde Thompson. He had been dubbed “the meanest man in Texas” by prison authorities, and they put him in a solitary confinement cell for six years. In the midst of that misery, Clyde reached up to God for help. When he got out of prison years later, he initially kept his bad-boy past a secret. But his ministry took off when he started telling about his past and what God had done for him.
You don’t have to have been an addict or a notorious outlaw to have a light that you can shine. Your light could be based on something that devastated you, such as a divorce that was forced on you, the death of a loved one, or a disease.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and went through chemo therapy and 44 radiation treatments. When a long-time friend found out that he had prostate cancer, guess who he called?
What is your light? Have you been hiding it under a bushel? Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!
“New International Version” and “NIV” are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Used by permission.
© 2022 by Don Umphrey
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