“What we really need is more proactive good, as well as reactive good. We need to search for ways to attack every area of life with good, rather than waiting for deterioration to force us into reaction. We need to encourage right, not just discourage wrong. We need to teach aggressive good, not just defensive good.”
—M. Norvel Young
When I was a boy, we had a family tradition of singing a Bible song before breakfast. I can still hear my Dad’s base voice and see his raised eyebrows as he intoned one of his favorites: “Brighten the corner where you are, brighten the corner where you are, someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar, brighten the corner where you are.” The message I took from this simple song was that I have agency and power to make better what is within my sphere of influence and that I should use that agency to help improve and bless “my corner” of the world.
Jesus taught his followers that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). His call to Christians is not to blandly blend in or bury our lights under bushels but to penetrate and permeate the world, serving as preserving agents and corner brighteners. Dad’s song, “Brighten the corner”, borrowed the image of a light shining in a dark place from Jesus’ here in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus’ wisdom is also reflected in the famous slogan, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
This past week, my friend Martin brightened his corner of the world with the following testimonial on FaceBook (edited for space and clarity):
“Most of you have been with me for a long time, thru my failings and wanderings and a lot of you have prayed for me through illness and health. Most of you know that on October 9, 1998, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and was told that unless I got a bone marrow transplant, I had five to seven years to live. Well, I decided not to get the transplant and I’m still here. After three years of chemotherapy, they told me that I would never have children. Now I have a beautiful seven-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. I love you all and no matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken—I wanted to say that I’m thankful for you and grateful you are all in my life. Know that whether you claim God as your Father now or not, or are not sure whether He even exists, that we have a loving and kind God who is for you, He is For YOU! HE IS FOR YOU!”
My friend Ken from Texas also reflected this past week on a more excellent way to live in the midst of this pandemic: “Share with one another. Be kind. Work for the common good. Laugh together. Cry together. Be courageous. Help the weak. Be humble. Sacrifice for others. Sing together. Be creative. Seek what is true. Solve problems together. Show compassion. Choose love.” In other words, brighten the corner where you are! May God bless you as you seek to do just that!