THE VAIN CANDLE


 
Once upon a time there was a little candle that flickered timidly in a small room.   It cast a soft shimmering light in the tiny home of a poor widow.   Its glow danced merrily as it added cheerfulness to its surroundings.   Sometimes it played with the children and helped them to fashion grotesque shadows on the wall.   You could hear the gleeful laughter as the imaginary shapes of birds, animals and even people appeared in the candle’s glow.   The widow was grateful for its friendly light.   It helped her do her housework and by putting it near to her Bible she could read with the aid of its light.   She often remarked, “I don’t know what I‘d do without this candle.”   She remembered the old Chinese proverb that, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”   Then too, she well remembered what the Bible says about light.  “The darkness could not put it out.” John 1:5 (Goodspeed)
 
As time went on, the candle began to feel very important and eventually became vain and proud.   As its vanity increased, it commenced to feel very much dissatisfied with its lot in life.   It grew sullen and started to pout, “Why should I be confined to this dingy room with no one to appreciate me except this frail old woman?”   Then the candle saw its own reflection in the mirror that hung on the wall and concluded that it was exceptionally beautiful.   One dark night when the window shade was not completely drawn, the candle peeped through the crack outdoors and discovered that its light reached farther then it previously thought possible.   “See,” it said, “I’m not given a fair chance.   They keep me shut up in this room when they know I really could fill a much more important role.”
 
Next thing, the candle began to throw tantrums.   It gave off offensive fumes and sometimes it died down to a dim blue flame.   At other times, it lost its temper and got so hot and fierce that it melted the wax around its collar.   At last it got what it wanted---attention.   The kind old lady wondered out loud, “What on earth has happened to my candle.  I’ve never see it act this way before.”   In the stillness of the long evening the lady was startled by the
unmistakable sounds of a petulant voice.   It was saying, “I’m tired of burning out my life in this dingy den.   If I could be placed on the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty, then I could be appreciated by everyone.   I could guide ships in the dark and keep airplanes on their courses.   What good am I doing here?   Nobody appreciates my real importance.   My life is just wasted here.   What’s the use!   Oh, what’s the use!” it moaned.   With this outburst of temper, it almost sputtered out completely.
 
Now the dear old lady felt sorry for the candle.   She didn’t want to hamper its ambition to rise to a more lofty place, although she was apprehensive about it taking on such disproportionate responsibility.   She cautioned the candle with the wise counsel, “That ability and capability usually determine one’s responsibility.”   “Nevertheless” she continued, “Although I think you’re making a tragic mistake, I’ve some friends who will see that you get your wish.”   At this, the candle fairly danced for joy.
 
In due time, a large quantity of string was obtained and the fretful candle was on its way.   Soon influential men began “pulling the strings” and the candle began a rapid rise above its equals.   It proudly exulted that no other candle ever rose so high before.   It blazed as brightly as possible so as to attract as much attention as it could to itself, but a nervous numbing fear gripped the candle when it compared its feeble light with the blinding beams shed by other lights.
 
Alas!   Too late the candle realized that the higher it got, the less it could be noticed, and consequently the less useful it became.   Soon its tiny flicker was lost in the very heights to which it aspired.   When it reached the pinnacle and sat beside the 1,000,000,000 candle power beacon, its presence was not even noticed.   Since it had always led a sheltered life before, it was not prepared for the sudden gust of wind that snuffed out its light altogether.   An alert janitor, tossed it into his cleaning bag, wondering how it got there, and soon it was forgotten.
 
The candle did not forget its lesson.   Now it longed for the privilege to be appreciated and serve a useful purpose like it had done before.   By envying the lofty position of others, it lost the privilege of serving where it could.   It reflected that qualifications to perform a task are more important than “pulling the strings” for personal advantage.   Advancement through merit is the best road to promotion.
 
Many of us will recall the lovely lilting childhood tune called, “Jesus bids us shine.”   Its message still applies and we should memorize the words.
 
“Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him,
Well He sees and knows it, if our lights are dim.  
He looks down from heaven, sees us shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.”
 
In other words, we should make the most of our gifts, using what we have in the place where we are.   Don’t spoil your life by aspiring to things you can’t attain.   The worth of an individual is not determined by the heights you climb, but by how faithful you are.   One time the late King George of England attended an outdoor event to which thousands of people gathered.   As the Regal party was being conducted to their especially reserved seats, a rabbit hopped out on the field in full view of all the spectators.   The terror stricken creature darted first one way and then another.   For a time that rabbit actually got more attention than the King of England!   It wasn’t because the rabbit was so important, but rather that is was so completely out of place!   Attention of this kind is a serious liability, for at all costs, it must be removed, so the full consideration of the ultimate purpose may get our undivided attention.   Jesus said, “His Lord said, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. 25:23)
 
One president of the United States offered to shake hands with a little boy who was proudly presented by his mother.   The boy could not get his hand out of his pocket and the embarrassed mother, discovered that his little fist clenched a handful of marbles.   A few marbles prevented him from shaking hands with the president!   A proper appraisal of the true values in life will go a long way toward preventing us from grasping present trifles at the cost of losing eternal treasures.
  

 

 

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