Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: “Here am I: If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Isaiah 58:9–10

I had a candle that wouldn’t burn once. Dad and I made it one night with the YMCA Indian Guides. There were five of us young boys and our five fathers. We cut string for the wick, melted paraffin in a pan, then dipped the wicks, and carefully filled the small milk containers we brought home from school with the melted paraffin after securing the wicks to the bottom of the carton. However, the paraffin would not be cool enough to transport at the end of the meeting. Practical problems need practical solutions. So the dads decided to more quickly reduce the temperature of the paraffin by introducing ice cubes. This did solidify the paraffin much more quickly, and by the time we had finished our closing circle ceremony the candles were ready.

But, they sloshed. Turns out, oil and water don’t mix. The paraffin had formed a solid shell around the ice cubes which quickly liquefied right in the center of the wax. A wick doesn’t really care what kind of moisture it is carrying, and so it dutifully saturated itself with water. Our practical solution had produced a practically useless candle.

We, fortunately, have been fearfully and wonderfully made exactly according to plan. But it is on us to jealously guard all the important ingredients so we can shine Christ’s light into the darkness in our worlds.


Ken Kolter is a longtime member of South Main Baptist Church. He is husband to Bobbye and father of Katlyn, Madison, and Alison, and serves in Chafin’s New Beginnings Bible Study Community.

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