”It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

I recently went on a mission trip to Panama City Beach (PCB), Florida during Spring Break. Our goal was mainly to provide means of safety while discretely promoting the Gospel when given the opportunity. Prior to attending the trip, I was a little judgmental toward the college students that we were there to minister to. Ok, that’s a lie. I was very judgmental. I was in a self-righteous funk. I had exalted myself and made the drunken spring breakers inferior. This is not a promotion of the Gospel. Being the self-righteous Pharisee that I was being, I did not pray nor seek counsel as I should have in preparation.  While we were there, we split into two teams: streets (go to the clubs and minister/offer free rides) and vans (driving, navigating, and assisting in the vans for free rides). I was on the street teams where the action was. I began speaking with the individuals, and I had a heart change. I had multiple amazing talks with these students, and quite honestly, they changed a part of me.

Now, I’m not here to tell you about my experience, but rather to give application of my favorite quote. Prior to my visit to PCB, I was cursing the darkness. Who does that help? It helps no single person. After speaking with these guys, I felt their pain. Their main issue was that they never felt like anyone cared about their well-being. No one had ever lit a candle. This fact saddens me to my core and made me fall in love with PCB and all of its drunks, sexually promiscuous, pot-smokers and flamboyant prideful men. When I had the conversations, I was usually given the cold shoulder at first, but then something in their demeanor changed—they realized that regardless of whether or not they took the free rides from us Christian fanatics, I genuinely cared for these people.

And that’s where the Church falters—we’ve lost our authenticity of compassion. That’s one of the many things that attracts me to XXXChurch. XXX embraces compassion and authenticity. I mean, when’s the last time your church went on a mission trip to a porn convention. (I thought so.) I’m not knocking other mission opportunities because each church serves a purpose in its own way and may impact our world in a different way. My implication is that no matter what it is, we need to be an impact, we need to serve, and we need to light a candle. Each person lights a candle differently. The way I like to serve is with the youth and the stereotypical darkness of the drunkard. I love these areas of service. Others, maybe yourself, would prefer to serve at a homeless shelter or food bank. As I said though, this is a call to action. Inaction (laziness perhaps) is a hindrance to the Gospel.

Now, I want to bring it home. Maybe it’s time to light a candle in your private life. What I mean is, maybe it’s time for you to GET ACCOUNATABLE rather than staying holed up in your room, doing the deed, and then feeling guilty. Maybe it’s time to stop cursing your darkness and time to bring it to light. I know I keep saying maybe, but I’m implying that it is time. Stop feeling guilty. Guilt is a distraction tactic that concentrates on self rather than the selfless, forgiving Savior. Promote the Gospel in yourself—Light that candle and don’t curse the darkness.