Jenny Hanes sat quietly rocking in the afternoon sun. There was a breeze blowing and it felt like one of those dozy days when the best place to be is on your back porch in a rocker. Mrs. Hanes wasn't just rocking, however; she was thinking.
She was thinking about how alone she felt. Her husband had been dead for 10 years and her children lived in another state. Oh, she had friends, but they had aches, pains, and families to deal with. Yes, Jenny Hanes felt very alone. Suddenly, as she thought, a german phrase from her days in college studying the language.
Es hat alles keins weck." "It is all for nothing," she said to herself.
She spoke into the empty back yard, almost startling at the sound of her voice.
"What am I still doing here Lord? Why don't you take me home?"
All of a sudden, she felt so sleepy. Was it from the stress of that most heart-felt question? Was she simply feeling the effects of the warm day? Whatever the reason, Jenny Hanes let herself lean back and drift off into sleep.
"Wake up Jenny. Wake up."
Who was that calling her name? She didn't want to wake up. it felt nice sleeping in the sun.
"Wake up Jenny. Wake up."
The voice wouldn't go away! Well, there was nothing for it but to wake up. She opened her eyes and almost yelled. There was someone, a man, standing over her. It was he who had been calling her name.
"Who are you?" she asked as bravely as she could.
"Don't be afraid Jenny. You know Me."
As He spoke, the man paced a comforting hand on her shoulder. As Jenny's eyes flicked to the hand, she saw the ragged scar. It was then that she slid out of the chair and on to her knees. It was her Lord! He was standing right here, in her back yard!
She looked up into the face she'd longed to see for so very many years. He was smiling and Jenny could see the love in his eyes.
"Am I dead, Lord?"
"No, you're not dead, but there's something I want to show you. Will you come."
"Yes, Lord, of course I'll come."
She stood to her feet and the Lord took her by the hand. Suddenly, the back porch and yard were gone, replaced by a room she hadn't seen for the longest time. It was her fifth grade classroom, Mrs. Andrew's class. Someone was just opening the door and coming into the room. It was Mrs. Andrews, looking sad and tired. She didn't seem to notice that anyone was watching her.
The door opened again and a little girl walked into the room. Jenny started. It was herself she was seeing! The teacher had just slumped into her chair when the young Jenny had walked into the room.
"I'm sorry Mrs. Andrews, I forgot my sweater."
"That's all right Jenny," Mrs. Andrews answered, "Go ahead and get it."
She had tried to hide the fact that her eyes were filling with tears, but the little girl saw.
"What's the matter Mrs. Andrews?"
"But why are you crying?"
"My little girl is very sick. She's in the hospital."
As the teacher started crying, the little girls face took on an awkward, but compassionate look. She walked toward the teacher's desk, uncertainly at first, but more and more confident that what she was doing was right. She walked around the desk and put her arms around her teacher. The hug wasn't a long one, but length doesn't matter in such cases. The young Jenny then turned toward the door and walked out of the room. The older Jenny continued to watch the teacher who had seem startled at first. Then somehow, as though the hug had given her new strength, she dried her eyes and began to correct papers. But Jenny saw something else. She saw in the teacher's hand a little candle, lit and burning bright.
"How did she get that candle? Jenny asked.
"From Me," JESUS answered, "I used you to light it."
As Jenny opened her mouth to say something else, JESUS put His finger to His lips.
"Wait," he said.
The classroom disappeared just as her back yard had done and they were standing on a crowded street. It looked like a rummage sail, full of shoppers looking for bargains. Jenny once again saw herself among the shoppers, not ten years old this time, but about 40. She was looking for some toys you her kids, just for the fun of it.
"No honey, Mommy doesn't have enough money for that. We've still got to get some clothes."
Curious, Jenny turned to see what the child was looking at. It was a little girl and she had been eying a scooter. Her own little girl had had one of those. She glanced at the price tag. Only 10 dollars and it was in such good condition. She opened her purse and there it was. She knew she had a ten in there. She took it out and tapped the mother on the molder.
"My daughter had one of those once and she had tons of fun with it."
She then handed the ten to the mystified woman. The mother looked as though she wanted to say no, but just then she looked at her daughter. She reached down and picked up the scooter, giving Jenny a grateful nod as she walked away. Just as she turned her back, the older Jenny saw the freshly lit candle in her hand.
"Did that little girl have fun with the scooter?" Jenny asked.
"Yes," Jesus answered and her mother never forgot that day. You planted a seed that day when you lit My candle."
Again Jesus put a finger to His lips as Jenny started to speak and the street disappeared. They were in a restaurant now. Jenny started again. She was just in here last week! There she was, sitting at a table with the pastor and his wife. The exhausted looking waitress came up to take their order. She was a good waitress, but Jenny remembered that she kept looking more and more hagared every time she came to check that everything was all right. Jenny left a five-dollar-bill on the table when she got up to leave. It was a high tip, but she felt a desire to bless this tired-looking woman. Jenny passed the waitress as she walked out. She caught the woman's eye and smiled broadly as she said thank you and complimented her service.
Jesus and Jenny watched the waitress as her shoulders lifted somewhat and a glimmer of renewed energy came into her eyes. Jenny saw the candle in her hand, burning bright.
Now, they were back in Jenny's yard on the porch.
"Jenny," Jesus asked "What do you think those candles were?"
Jenny thought a while and said, "Well, I know they were Your candles. I saw them just after I left! each person. But Lord, I can't think what it all means."
"Those candles were My candles. Every time you let Me shine through you, it brings light into the life of the person you touch. It is the light of My love."
"But why did you show me all of this? Jenny asked.
"I showed because you have lost sight of what I put you on this earth to do; let My light shine through you that I might be known. Keep your eyes on Me daughter. Keep your hope in Me and I shall use you. Soon enough, you will join me and the struggle of this life will be done. But there is still a work to do. It will not seem to be a great work by many standards, but My standard is what matters."
Jenny began to weep and once again knelt on the porch floor.
"Oh my God forgive me please. What more can I say?"
"Don't worry. You are forgiven. Rise up My Daughter. Rise up and walk with me."
Then Jenny found herself awake in the rocker. At first, her heart was unutterably sad. He was gone. But no, He wasn't gone. He was still right here and He bid her walk with Him. Her heart somehow lighter, she stood up and walked into the house. It was supper time.
In the days to come, Jenny Hanes felt revived. She still ached. She still felt lonely at times. That ugly thing called heart trouble still plagued her existence. But she had new purpose. She made a renewed effort to be mindful of her Lord. As she did, more and more opportunities came her way, and she lit more little candles for Jesus.