When I write this column, one thought often leads to another. A couple weeks ago, I was writing about the day our old pickup truck caught fire. One fire thought led to another and sparked a story.

When I was young, I lived in a house on a dead-end street with only a few homes on each side. The concrete stopped beside our house, followed by a hill that plunged sharply downward and into a cemetery. For me, this house was the house of many firsts. Here, I first learned to ride a bicycle. It’s funny how fast you learn to handle a bike when your street ends in a drop-off with a tombstone to greet you below.

This house was the place where I first consumed more than I needed. I used to love bananas, but one day I ate so many I threw up everything in my stomach. To this day, I can’t stand the smell of the yellow fruit.
We also lived in this house when I first learned about missions. I was a Sunbeam and loved singing, “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.” Sure, the idea of being transformed into a ray of sunlight struck me as improbable and silly. But the catchy tune encouraged me to sing as loudly as possible, “A suuuuuun-BEAM, a SUUUUUUUUN-BEAM, I’ll be a sunbeam for Him!”

Every boy has a moment of discovery when he feels as though he’s gained entrance to the inner circle of manhood and power. It happened for me at this house when I learned that real sunbeams carried the power to transform.

The older boy next door showed me how to take a magnifying glass and hold it in such a way as to focus the sun’s rays into one powerful spot. He held the lens steady and pointed a beam of light at a piece of paper. As the beam grew more intense, a miracle began to take place. First, a brown spot appeared. Then, the paper started to smolder. Finally, as if by magic, it burst into flames. I was hooked.

The idea that I could take a small piece of glass and, with patience and a steady hand, focus the sun’s rays and produce fire fascinated me. But I had to keep this secret to myself. One day, I was playing behind our neighbor’s old garage. It was in disrepair, and I don’t remember a car ever being parked in it, but it shielded me from the public view.

I placed a piece of tissue paper against the garage, hoping once again to harness the energy of the universe at one tiny spot. I watched with a careful eye as it caught fire. I had grown accustoming to watching the paper flame up, then die out as the ashes blew away. This time, instead of going out, the fire spread to the dilapidated old garage.

There I stood with my little magnifying glass, staring in disbelief at the mother of all fires. That memorable incident ended my brief career as a fire starter.

Whenever I hear the passage where Jesus says, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5), I smile. My life experience leads me to see the person of God focused upon this Earth in one small spot through the lens of His Son, Jesus. God’s power and strength are as vast as the sun’s rays, but for a brief time, He pulled His glory together and poured it into His Son. And Jesus tells us we are light, too:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16)

God wants us to be His magnifying glasses. He takes our lives and as we decrease, He increases (John 3:30) and something incredible happens. His fire consumes us and the things that surround us. We have no choice—and no desire—but to shine for Him.

Are you raising your children to be God’s magnifying glasses? No, you don’t have to teach them to start fires. Someone next door will do that. Instead, you live your life before them in such a way that they see an intense focus and learn to capture a tremendous, life-changing power. When that happens, they’ll start a fire that begins and ends with . . . the light of the world.

Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail walker@awestar.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827)