I want to share a short story written by my grandmother, Sue Dominick, on how we have the chance to magnify the love of God. Grandma was a faithful woman who was married for 57 wonderful years, raised seven children, was constantly involved in her church, started a Christian bookstore and endured life’s hard and happy moments with incredible grace and poise. She lost her oldest daughter, Sarah, from a brain tumor, but despite this tragic loss remained joyful and grateful in every part of her life. Grandma is a beautiful example of how a life lived through Christ is what we are called to.
“Mother and I smelled smoke as we walked through the front door. We traced the smell to her bedroom where a dime-sized hole was smoldering in the padded footstool by her chair. Thank goodness we’d returned! A little later and that footstool would have begun to blaze.
But how could it have caught fire? I wondered. Brilliant sunshine streamed through the window where Mother’s large magnifying lamp was attached to the sill. Of course! The large lens had focused the sun’s rays on the footstool, nearly causing a fire.
I thanked the Lord that we’d come home in time, but the incident stayed on my mind for a long time.
The sunshine had power – power enough to set my whole house afire, I reflected, but it had to come through that magnifying glass. The magnifier itself couldn’t start a blaze , couldn’t even fulfill its purpose without the light. Once the lens was in place, however, the light, the power that suffused the atmosphere, could focus on one spot with enough intensity to convert solid matter into living flame.
‘Dear Lord,’ I pondered, ‘is this the way you permit us to magnify you in prayer? Do you, when we are willing, use us as lenses to focus your powerful love on the needs around us? Can we agree to put ourselves in place like that magnifying lamp in the window of my home? Dear Lord, what a marvelous gift to be used in such a way!’
At the time this happened, I had been in a prayer group for some years. We had been awed and elated by God’s direct answers to our prayers. It wasn’t hard to make a connection: A prayer group functions as a bigger lens. More people, even two or three, making themselves available in prayer, for the same intention are capable of receiving and focusing great power. The Lord promised he would be with us ‘where two or more are gathered’ (Matt 18:20).
We learn patience by experience. Just as it requires time for light to shine through a lens to create a blaze, so time is required for God’s light to penetrate the darkness of our problems and concerns. Some of our prayers are answered quickly; some answers smolder for a long while before we can detect a flame.
Our small group is aware that God uses even our imperfect selves, our flawed lenses, to transmit a Love so intense that it does start fires.”Sue Dominick
This story always strikes me as impressive. I’m not sure about you, but my first thought after my house nearly burning down surely would not have been to see how God uses us as instruments of His love.
Recently in marriage preparation, I was talking with a priest and he explained how marriage is a unique sacrament because the minister of marriage isn’t a priest or pastor, it’s the couple who give themselves to each other. This was baffling to me. It seems like God is the center of it all. And He is! So wouldn’t an ordained minister, someone specially consecrated to serve Him, be the instrument God chooses to unite two people in marriage?
I think my grandmother hit the nail on the head with what she learned from the magnifying glass. When we say “Yes”, when we choose to put ourselves in a position to magnify God’s love (like standing on an altar giving ourselves to another person), God uses us in unbelievable ways. It doesn’t take an ordained person to be that minister of marriage because no person is the light in my grandmother’s story. We don’t have any divine power or strength. But, anytime we are open to God, we become a magnifier of His love and His light, to share with the world.
As Program Director at Chosatonga I see the capacity for all of us in the camp community to be that magnifying glass. In the setting of growing in faith, adventure, family and so many other virtues, we put ourselves on that windowsill to gather God’s light and direct it to the people God places in our lives. Whether it’s a friend, spouse, co-worker, classmate, neighbor or even just a stranger at the grocery store, we have the chance to be that magnifier of God’s love and set the world on fire each and every day. We may be surprised how God uses us!