Candles Dancing in the Dark

Jesse Birkey's picture

I sighed and glanced at the clock.  Eleven PM.  I shifted in my seat and dropped one hand off the steering wheel.  There were a lot of hours ahead and too few behind.  The highway stretched ahead like a monotonous drone oblivious to the late hour.  Highways don’t sleep.  Hopefully the people driving on them don’t either.


I adjusted the heat and cleared my throat.  Despite the dazzling entertainment of occasional headlights on the other side of the median and the exciting hum of my own engine, my mind began to drift.


I’d just finished a book in which I felt the author had ‘stepped out’ with God in an area that seems like a struggle for me at times.  I was considering how much more advanced the author was than me in this particular area and, as what normally happens when we compare ourselves to others, I began to feel a stab of discouragement. 


“God,” I said.  “There are people who are so much more advanced than me in some of these areas I feel I should be better at.”


His response came floating back, Yeah you’re right,


I scrunched my forehead.  Not exactly the response I was looking for.  I was about to let out the old line, “That ain’t God that’s the devil”.  You know, the line we come up with when God tells us something we don’t like.  But I knew better.  So I waited and hoped there was more to come.  I didn’t have to wait long.


There are some who have grown and matured in areas that you’re still learning to crawl through.  And there are areas you’ve grown and matured in that others are still learning to crawl through.  But there’s something else here we can address.


The words were settling in my heart when I saw a picture of two candles.  The flames flickered and danced to a silent beat.  I pinched my chin and waited for an explanation.


This is how individual journeys are often viewed, he said.  The size, brightness, intensity, and beauty are compared.  The winner feels successful and the loser like a failure.


I leaned back in my seat and stretched some stiffness out of my leg.


But that’s not how I view things, the Lord continued.  You tend to measure success and failure against that of others but for me, one of the candles disappeared from the picture, there is only one flame. 


I think that as we weave our way through life there are messages from God that we can’t hear often enough.  “I’m not comparing you to someone else” is one of those important messages we need to be reminded of. 


The success and failures of others are irrelevant to our own journey with God.  We are each unique and face different circumstances life throws at us.  The beautiful thing is that God tailors a path perfect for us and perfect for our pace.  There is no one mold fits all (though we often think there is and judge people accordingly).  


Though we may walk beside others for a time, season’s change and path’s veer.  A success for us may not be one for someone else and the opposite is true.


We need to be free to walk with God without trying to force our way in to someone else’s mold.  People get hurt that way.  Cramps abound.  Now this doesn’t mean that others can’t or shouldn’t inspire us to press forward.  We should all have people in our lives who can model a spark we might be missing.  But just because they have that spark doesn’t make them successful and us failures.   


So the next time we feel the whoosh of air as someone sprints past us, understand that our walk is just as successful as his or her sprint.  Each step, no matter what the pace, brings us closer to Jesus in life changing ways.




Jesse and Kara Birkey


**Family in need URGENT request**


Kara’s uncle Bruce Fowler has struggled with brain tumors for the last 15 years.  The treatment he and his family are seeking at this point is necessary for life and expensive.  They need help.  A donation site has been set up for them at Give Forward.  Please take a moment to look at this.  Any amount helps and prayers are so important and coveted.  Thanks so much! 






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