Dare To Lift Your Light Higher—Increase Your Influence and Joy Part 8March 15, 2014
By Rick Renner
Editor’s Note: This article is Part 8 of Rick’s continuing series “Lift Your Light Higher” in which he teaches in-depth from Matthew 5:14-16 and shares from his own experiences of respecting the gift of God within and stepping out of the shadows to allow that gift to shine and bless others.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. — Matthew 5:15,16
I shared about a very traumatic incident that occurred in my youth when I took a “chance” and stepped out to shine my light for the Lord for others to see and benefit from. I had written a book at the age of 18 and sent a copy of the manuscript to a very well-respected minister and Bible scholar to review it. The minister responded to me very favorably at first, telling me what a wonderful job I’d done expounding on the subject I’d written about. But then he found out that I was only 18 years old, and he nearly came unglued as he recanted everything he’d said – every compliment he’d given me!
After that minister finished berating me, I felt devastated and I quickly disposed of every copy of the manuscript I had in my possession. (Fortunately, I’d also given a copy to my mother, which I’d forgotten about, and she still has that manuscript to this day).
I often wonder what would have happened in my ministry if I hadn’t lifted my light higher than the first book I wrote that became “hidden under a bushel.” But because I believed in my gift and in what God had called me to do, that was not the end of the story for me. Obedience is not for the lazy or fainthearted! Although it’s uncomfortable and even painful at times to feel misunderstood or rejected by others, our feelings must never be trusted or used as an excuse to disobey God and His plan for our lives or to hide our light.
One step of obedience always leads to the next step in God’s plan for your life. But you have to take that step! For me, my step of obedience came when I published my first book years after I’d been hurt by that older minister. Since then, I’ve published more than 30 titles, and I’m still writing and publishing books today!
Now let me share with you how the publishing of my first books also served as a catalyst to move my family and me to the former USSR. Because I determined to obey God and write those books, their sales helped us make that move 23 years ago to do the work God called us to do in this part of the world and to lift our lights higher in a brand-new way.
Right now — more than two decades since we moved to the former Soviet Union — Denise and I are lifting our lights even higher as we obey God in establishing a permanent home for the Moscow Good News Church. It’s a strategic and timely assignment, as there has never been a time in Russian history when the Protestant Church has had so much visibility and prominence. We’re so thankful that we found a building that meets all our needs, and we are in the final phase of the reconstruction of that building, with our first services in our new building slated for this coming spring.
But what if I had quit after I became discouraged by that other minister? With the Lord, one step of obedience always leads to the next step of obedience. If we become unwilling to lift our lamp where we are, why would God give us another assignment or the next step to take in His plan for our lives? We have to take the gifts and talents we have and lift them up! The higher the light, the brighter the light!
It simply amazes me what God has done in the past 23 years through our ministry in the former Soviet Union. And He continually brings our ministry to new levels as He calls us to increase our influence and extend our light even further in this day and hour so that more people can come into the light, be transformed, and lift their own lights higher and higher.
What about you? What kind of impact do you desire to have on the world around you? Yes, the people in your corner and at your table need your light. But God has given you a precious treasure — the Holy Spirit — as well as the faith to do something with the oil of the Holy Spirit within. If you will lift up your lamp by faith and by the Spirit of God, you can change your world. Others are waiting for your light!
I want to tell you the truth: The men and women you see who sing and entertain people aren’t always the best singers, musicians, actors, etc. And the books you read aren’t always written by the writers with the most talent. And the preachers you see on television aren’t always the best preachers. But all of these people have something that sets them apart from those who have talent, yet who aren’t on television or in movies — or who aren’t widely published. Successful people simply have the gumption to lift up their light! They believe in themselves and in their gift — while others who are perhaps more gifted and talented may lack one element: the nerve to lift up their lamp so that they can extend their light higher and further.