Don’t just be a light; be a searchlight
I was singing alto in church choir practice as we prepared for a special event. Our church services didn’t include a choir regularly, and so the choir director was leading a group new to him. And he was new to us.
This evening, he walked around us, listening to our voices as we followed our music, and then held up his arms to stop us.
“Who is that?” he said, pausing as he looked in the direction of the alto section. “Sing!”
I continued, more self-conscious now, as he stood in front of my section and tried to locate the specific voice he heard. I matched the ladies on either side of me note for note, word for word. Or I thought I did. Was I singing off-key?
He stopped in front of me. My heart sank.
“You’re shiny,” he said.
I wished I had a tissue to wipe any excess oil off my nose.
“Your voice is shiny,” he said, clarifying.
He meant it in a good way. He rewarded me with a solo part in the upcoming event. He also connected me with the voice teacher his wife used and invited me to join the church’s small worship ensemble as a singer. When he and his wife moved away some months later, I became the lead female singer.
Because my voice was shiny.
A few weeks ago, God reminded me of that moment during my morning quality time. This is what I journaled:
“Shine, my child. You are special. Just as the choir director wanted to find that ‘shiny’ voice, I want you to find your shiny voice and let it shine for me!”
The context of that conversation was not choir practice or even singing. It was in regard to writing. My shiny “voice” is my writing or my literal voice, whatever God uses to share the message in my heart.
For the one who needs to hear it.
The value of ‘one’
Lately, I have eased my distress over a small audience for my message by remembering that the Shepherd left the 99 in search of the 1. If reaching one was good enough for Jesus my Shepherd, it should be good enough for me.
In addition, I sensed God say to me this:
“So what if I choose to use you to touch the hearts of one or two? Does that not tell you how much I care about that one?”
That God would put a message on my heart, give me the ability to communicate that message as well as the desire to put forth the effort to write and publish that message for one person? Yes, I’d say that shows how much God loves the one. Was I willing to exhaust myself on behalf of one? Yes.
But this weekend, as I vacuumed the dirty carpets, these words came to mind: “go into the highways and byways and bring them in.” I hadn’t recently read those words, but the phrase comes from the passage in Luke 14 in which a man hosted a dinner party and His invited guests — one by one — made excuses and did not come.
The Host already had created the feast and did not want it to go to waste. So He urged his servant to go throughout the city to bring in the poor, maimed, lame, and blind. When He still had room for more, He said this:
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.’”Luke 14:23, NIV
Of course, just as the Shepherd in the parable was a picture of Jesus, so this Host is too. See this: He wanted His dinner enjoyed. He wasn’t satisfied with one or even a few partaking in what He offered. He wanted his house full.
And so He actively broadened his reach. He expanded from His circle of friends and family to anyone in the city and then to anyone in the country. He invited those who weren’t saturated with the good life, those who had suffered rejection and trouble, those who were hungry for human affection and food.
It made me revisit the story about the Shepherd and the one sheep.
“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains, and go and search for the one that is lost?”
Yes, the Shepherd loved the one enough to leave the 99 to rescue it. But He had to “go and search.” He didn’t stay where He was and call for the sheep to come to Him. He actively went and searched. He made the effort to find his sheep.
As a writer, I have focused on the one. I’ve published my blog posts and promoted them (once a week) on social media in hopes that the one who needs my writing will find me (my writing, my message).
The difference between ‘one’ and ‘search’
In marketing, when we publish something on our website, we call that “passive marketing.” When we make a phone call, table at an event, engage with potential clients on social media or face-to-face, we actively market.
Passive marketing is standing on a dock with a baited hook hoping a fish swims near enough to notice and bite. Active marketing is driving a boat with a fish finder to where the fish are, using the bait you know the fish can’t resist, and reeling them in one by one (or in multiples, if you use multiple hooks).
Do you think that if the Shepherd had lost a number of sheep that He wouldn’t have gone to search for them instead of one? The point of that parable, my friend, isn’t in the number one. The point is that the Shepherd loves all of His sheep enough to search and rescue those who are lost.
Perhaps I focus on the one in that story because it makes me feel much better about the one or slightly more than one who responds to my message. I focus on the one because it shows me that Jesus loves me, one of His sheep, enough to seek me.
But Jesus — as the Host in the parable in Luke 14 — wants His table filled with hungry people. He broadened His search to reach as many as He could so that His feast would be enjoyed, not wasted.
It’s time to go and seek the ones who need what I have to offer. It’s time for you to seek the lost and hungry, too. Who needs what you have to share?
Shine your light
Think of my shiny voice. My choir director had to seek and find the person who had that voice. He then pointed me to someone who would train me to use my voice better, and he offered me a platform to use it. He took action so I could take action and glorify God with others through singing.
God has shown me the need to do whatever it takes to reach the one. But He doesn’t want me to stop there. He wants me to go after this one, then that one, then another one over there. To look at each as one but to go after more and more until I’ve reached all I can.
Scripture urges us to let our light shine.
“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 5:15-16, NIV
We are to shine in such a way as to bring glory to God. We’re to display it on a lampstand where it can shine most brightly and benefit everyone in the house. The Host in the parable wanted His house full and did everything He could to fill it with hungry people.
Dear Reader, we must be like the Shepherd in that we love enough to leave the 99 to search for 1, but we must value the feast we have to offer enough to seek well beyond our circle of friends to fill our table with hungry people. We can do that by being not just shiny lights, but shiny searchlights!
I hope you, too, are realizing how God made you shiny. If it’s not to write or sing, perhaps your “shiny voice” is evident in your other talents or passions. Whatever gift God has given you, choose to use it for His glory this week.
If you benefit from reading my blog posts, would you share the ones that touch your heart with someone who might benefit? I need your help in broadening my reach.
Also, let me know in the comments below or on social media (links below) or by emailing me at [email protected] I would love to know how I can pray for you or if you have questions or topics you would like me to discuss.
Let’s go and be searchlights for Jesus!
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