Light, star, footprint

The book of Daniel tells us about the reward of those who influence others for good. We are told that they will shine like the stars. Have you ever thought about the possibility that you might be like a star to someone?

You can be. In this dark world you can be a shining light in someone’s life.

Today in the Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton, Massachusetts is the grave of David Brainard. A graduate of Yale University, he gave up many opportunities to serve as a missionary to the North American Indians who had been so wronged by his people.

He became known among fur trappers as the man who trapped Indians with love.

It was a very grueling existence filled with hardships and suffering. In five years David Brainard was dead from overwork and exposure. He never so much as dreamed of being a star in anyone’s sky, but Jonathan Edwards was so touched that he wrote the story of his work and heroic sacrifice.

One day a young man by the name of Henry Martyn chanced to read the story and it changed his life. At the age of 25 he went as a missionary to India. There he burned out his life in service, dying at the age of 31. A star in somebody’s sky? It never occurred to Henry Martyn. But a young man by the name of David Livingstone read about his life and was so moved that he went to darkest Africa to take the message of Jesus Christ to “a thousand villages where no missionary had ever been.”

It is an unending line of splendor. For 200 years this one solitary life of David Brainard has touched the lives of thousands. Today that star still shines, challenging all of heroic heart and will.

It was the Man from Nazareth who said, “Let your light so shine on the lives of others.” Our light comes from Him who is the Light of the World. With his help you, too, can be a star in somebody’s sky.

“Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time.”

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.

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2012-05-31 digital edition

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