Pastor Jack Freed, the retired pastor at my church, was a guest pastor this past weekend and preached on a theme of hope. I get quite a bit of the inspiration for my blog posts from Jack’s daily blog posts in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words. In his sermon, he told the story of the four candles- the candles of peace, faith, love and hope.
I looked up the story he used on the internet (as you can almost everything these days). There were lots of results returned, as the story has been told and retold many times. I chose to watch the YouTube Video about the story of the four candles that I have linked to here.
I am struck by a two things in this story…the sadness of the first three candles slowly going out; as first peace and then faith and then love were extinguished, as much caused my being ignored or cast aside in our modern world as anything else.
It sometimes may appear that no one wants peace anymore, but I suspect that for those caught up in the ongoing conflict in Syria, peace is very dear to them and something that they would welcome into their homes. For most of us the concept of peace in our lives probably does not include a stoppage of bombings and killing; but, it probably does include the secession of many disturbing things going on around us.
Faith often gets hidden because it seems not to be hip or “with it” and then eventually it gets pushed aside in the pursuit of material things or power in our very secular world. Faith also requires a humbleness that the hubris of our world is want to deride. Faith also requires a letting go of the concept that we can solve everything ourselves. It depends upon believing in a higher power that we can call upon in times of need.
Love, one would think would have stayed lit, even in the face of the loss of peace and faith; however, when peace and faith are taken away, fear often becomes one of the strongest emotions in many people’s lives and perhaps that crowds out love, too. Fear also causes isolation, so loved ones may be forgotten or pushed away.
In the end, with peace and faith and love seemingly gone we really do only have hope left to light the way out of whatever darkness in which we find ourselves. For many people that is a darkness of the mind, sometimes called despair. It is a darkness unlike any that we have ever experienced.
I recall a trip I took with my son when he was little and we were in Indian Guides together. We spent the night in a cave. As part of that trip we took a boat ride on the underground river that flowed through the cave. When we were well underground the guide stopped the boat, which had headlights to see where we were going, and extinguished the lights. I had never been in total darkness like that before. It was scary. Then the guide lit a single match and in that total darkness there was enough light to see everything around us from that one tiny flame. Hope is like that tiny flame. As long as you keep hope lit you will not be in total darkness.
The second thing that struck me is the use of the image of the little child as the means of relighting the candles of love and faith and peace. That is an image of innocence and purity. It is the image of the ability to love without questioning or demanding. It is the image of that state of humbleness and acceptance that lets faith back in to our lives. And, it is the image of peace of the little child playing in a home or street without fear.
So watch the video (again, if you already did) and ask yourself if you have let the candles of peace or faith or love go out in your life. Maybe you have been through experiences that caused these things to be extinguished in your life and maybe things look pretty bleak; but, remember that as long as you cling to hope you are not in total darkness and you have the means of reigniting the other three candles in your life. Never lose hope. Drop the adult façade and become a child again and light the other three candles in your life. The darkness in your life will quickly drop away.