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The Little Light, 1871

by Charlotte Maria Tucker

Enter not into the path of the wicked. Proverbs 4:14

"What can I do to prove that I love the Lord?" said little Sarah Rose to herself, as she wandered home to her cottage on a fine starry night, after attending evening service. "I do love my Savior, because He first loved me. I do wish to serve Him, but I have so little power. We had a beautiful sermon this evening—the text was one of my greatest favorites in all the Bible, 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven' (Mat 5:16). But how can my little light shine? There is our kind pastor—he shines like a star," and she raised her eyes to the sparkling host above her. "And Mrs. Claremont, who is so good to the poor. And Miss Ella, who teaches in the school—their lights shine brightly. But I—I am a poor weak little girl, busy from morning till night. How can I shine at all to the glory of God?"

As these thoughts passed through her mind, her eye was attracted by a soft shining spark just under the hedge, which looked like a star just fallen on the ground. She approached the spot and bending down, gathered a handful of the dewy grass, and so managed to secure the shining gem without putting out its light. She bore it home very carefully and then examined it by the candle which was burning in her father's cottage. The beautiful spark came from a poor helpless insect, something like a small brown beetle, that crawled about amidst the damp moss and grass. Sarah, who was a kind little girl, carried back the glow-worm to its soft green home, and a feeling of joy arose in her heart as she thought, "God can make even a worm to shine to His glory and so may a poor little child." So, when she knelt down to her evening prayers, the words of the text were still on her lips, "Lord, let my light so shine before men that they may glorify my Father which is in heaven."

Early in the morning, the little girl arose. The sparkling glow-worm was still in her thoughts. She made the beds, she swept out the room, she lighted the fire, she rested not till all was clean and neat, for she knew that all about a Christian should be pure and stainless, without as well as within.

A busy life had Sarah, for her father was a very poor man. She had to mend the clothes, help her step-mother to wash, fetch water from the well, nurse the baby, and boil the potatoes for dinner. There was a time when Sarah would have grumbled at work, have loitered at the well, and been impatient with the fretful babe. But now the pale face was never clouded by a frown. With cheerful willingness, she did all that she was bidden to do. For hours together she rocked the baby in her arms and forgot her weariness as she saw it at length drop asleep on her knee. "This is one of my Lord's little lambs," thought she. "I will nurse it with pleasure for His sake." Was not God causing her light to shine?

At evening, when her brothers came home from school, the patience of Sarah was sorely tried. Jem showed a great rent in his jacket, so carefully mended the Saturday before; ran over the clean floor with his dirty boots; stumbled against the cradle and awakened the baby. The loud cry of the fretful infant drew the attention of its mother, and she made Jem cry still louder than the child. Sarah in a moment was beside the cradle, gentle, loving, and kind. "Come, George," said she to the elder boy, "see if you cannot quiet poor baby." Then Jem was soothed, the hole was mended, and the soil on the floor was removed. In a few minutes, all was peace, all was bright again, for God was making the little light to shine.

It was not alone of the clothes or the comforts of her brothers that Sarah thought. She knew that the Lord Jesus had died for them also and she longed to make them know Him and love Him and serve Him.

"While you rock the cradle, George," said she, "and little Jem sits quiet beside me, shall I read to you a little from the blessed Word of God? Would you not like to hear of Moses—when he was a baby—when he was placed in a floating ark beside the deep river and God watched over him when even his mother was obliged to leave him? Is it not a blessing to know that God loves us yet better than father or mother?"

So Sarah sat, with her Bible on her knee, the sleeping babe and the listening boys beside her. She was feeding the lambs of the Lord and leading them to heaven by her words and her example. God was making the little light to shine.

One autumn, when her father had been six weeks out of work, the baby was sick, and so poor was the family that even the boys were kept from school, the few pence required being too much for their parents to pay. Little Sarah was one day sent with some linen, which she had washed, to the wife of a neighboring farmer. She had two shillings to receive for the washing. Much were they needed, for not a loaf was left in her home and the quarter's rent had been due for a month. The farmer's wife placed the money in the hand of the child. But what was Sarah's feelings when, on turning from the door, she saw that a yellow sovereign had been paid by mistake instead of a shilling! Did she hesitate a moment? Did she think—"This will pay our rent or get the doctor for the baby," or "My poor little brothers may go to school again now." No, not an instant did she pause. Was she not a Christian child? Was not her light to shine before men? She ran back to the door, explained the mistake, and returned to her home, tired, hungry, but with a light heart and a clear conscience. The smile of her Savior was upon her.

During the long winter, little Sarah fell ill. Long had she struggled against sickness, carried the baby, worked and washed, when, day by day, she was growing thinner and thinner, almost sinking under weakness and pain. At last, she could no longer rise from her bed. Sleepless nights and days of suffering were trying the faith of the little Christian. A terrible tumor was gathering in her throat and the doctor was sent for at last. He tried all that his art could do. Poor Sarah meekly submitted to a painful operation. Her heart almost failed her as the instrument was produced and she shrank from the agony before her. Then she thought, "What is my pain compared to that which my Savior endured! If He suffered willingly for me, shall not I suffer cheerfully for Him and glorify God by my patience?" She uttered no cry, she shed no tear, no murmur was heard from her lips. God was causing the little light to shine.

But the skill of man had been tried in vain. Three days after the operation, the doctor, with a grave face, told the little girl that she was dying. But he wondered to see the calm, happy look of the child, as she clasped her thin hands and looked up to heaven. She knew that she was going home—she knew that she was going to the Savior whom she loved, who had washed her from her sins in His own precious blood.

And in the last struggle of death, then, above all, God caused the little light to shine. As her gentle spirit departed and her family knelt weeping round the lifeless form of Sarah, the clergyman entered and his presence hushed even the sounds of grief.

"Weep not," said he, "she sleeps in Jesus. Her feeble light shone before men to the glory of her God. It grew brighter and brighter and now it is 'perfect day.'"

Dear reader, whoever you may be, is God causing your little light to shine?

Edited by Pam Takahashi


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