Nannie Helen Burroughs

Let Your Lights Shine - Undated

Nannie Helen Burroughs
December 31, 1969
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The bold-faced text below was underlined in the original transcript.

My dear friends - as a representative of an educational institution it seems quite fit to think what to do with the light that we get from books, from teachers and from good influence day by day.

Love, Learning, Labor, and Leisure are the four great lights of life. They determine the achievements and destiny of every human soul. By them we walk steadily forward and upward, or we stumble blindly backward.

Every properly born child, comes in to the world with a heart capable of loving God and of loving his fellow man; with a brain capable of development until it thinks its thoughts after God; with hands to be trained to labor skillfully and with a desire for sufficient leisure time for relaxation, restoration, reflection, and revelation.

Love, Learning, Labor and Leisure are the lamps of life and the chief business of an institution of learning is to tell us where to find the oil, how to fill our lamps and how to trim them and keep them burning.

In brief, it is the business of institutions to teach its students how to light up their lives and make them the mental, moral, social, and spiritual lights of the world.

The first lamp is Love. Love is God. Love is the religion of humanity. It is the master key that opens every ward of the heart. It is the divine vitality that produces and restores life. Love is the miracle worker in our lives and it enables us to work miracles in the lives of others.

The lamp of Love lights up the soul, illumines the mind and makes radiant the life.

Dr. Tupper says that: Love is the weapon which Omnipotence reserved to conquer rebel man when all the rest had failed. Reason he parries; fear he answers blow for blow; future interests with present pleasure; but love, that sun against whose melting beams the winter cannot stand - that soft subliming slumber which wrestles down the giant, there is not one human being in a million, nor a thousand men in all earth’s huge quintillion, whose clay is hardened against love.

I speak not of that individual self-centered stuff that is too often substituted for the genuine article, I speak of that all inclusive, all pervading, humanity lifting lever and humanity loving spirit that girds itself for service and seeks not its own glory. That’s the kind of love that lights up a life.

It was made by God and glorified by His Son Jesus when He walked the earth and not only told men, to let their lights shines but showed them how to trim their lamps and keep them burning.

The love about which I speak not only lasts, but it shines more and more until the perfect day. It sends a well trained, consecrated woman down into the slums of a great city and constrains her to put herself into the lives of the unprivileged.

No light in the world is more valuable than the lights from the life that lights up the lives of others. No service in the world outranks it.

They work miracles which only God can see and evaluate, transformed and illumined when the lamp is lighted.

The lamp of love found Jerry McCauley, among the rejected and despised, drunken sots of his dat, down in Water Street, New York, and it lighted his life up for the most glorious service recorded outside of the triumphs of the saints, in the Books of the New Acts of the Apostles.

Love found John B. Gough in the gutter, liquor soaked and drunk crazed, and lighted up his life and his home and made him one of the greatest advocates of the cause of temperance, the world has ever heard.

Love sent Jesus Christ our Saviour from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah to tread the wine press alone.

Well might we sing “Love Lifted Me” and we can as truly sin “Love Illimined me.”

By the side of the Light of Love, is the Light of Learning. He who came from Edom with the light of love shining in Him and around Him, declared “I am the Light of the world, and ye shall know the truth.”

Heaven does not put a premium on ignorance. It glorifies Knowledge and that’s why God forgave Eve for wanting to get wise.

Learn! Know! That is man’s business.

It was not mere curiosity that made Eve eat the apple. It was an innate desire to know. Having eaten of the tree of knowledge herself, she loved Adam too much to allow him to live in ignorance.

It was her love for him that made her light up his life with the knowledge that had just come to her. Eve was therefore our first social worker. Adam would have doubtless remained in the dark had Eve not given him of the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Our schools give us the light. It is our duty to use our learning to light up the lives of others. Learning that is not thus passed on is worthless. It is our duty to use our torch to light up other lives, and they in turn must light up the life which is next to them. Let your light shine, is an order from Heaven. We sometimes sing the pretty little song - Win Them One by One.

It requires Labor to keep the lamps of love and learning burning. “I must work the works of Him who sent me.”

Work, Work, Work, That is the eternal and irrevocable law of God. To attempt to labor without a definite and clear knowledge of our task, is to attempt to build a house without a blue print and tools. This is an age of specialization.

The Bible declared that the blind cannot lead the blind. Let us add that the blind need not try to lead those who have sight.

Schools, colleges and universities adorn ever hilltop and light up every valley in America and there is no excuse for any boy or girl going thru life without the kind of education that enables him or her to make a life.

It requires work, labor, sacrifice, but the returns on a good education are worth more than all the effort put forth to secure it.

No life is lighted up without labor. The life that labors to learn and labors to earn, increases the value of its talents and powers a hundred fold.

Love, Learning, and Labor, these mighty triumvirates have made the world what it is today. They have brought us from little motes in chaos to an age in which marconigrams are flashing space, surgeons are transplanting bones, chemists are producing dye stuffs and perfumes and drugs from coal tar, water falls are lighting cities and driving engines, telephones and cable and telegraphs and radio have brought the people of the world in whispering distance.

But there is another “L.” It is Leisure, Leisure is one of man’s most valuable lights.

There must be time for rest, time for reflection, for meditation, for recreation and restoration. God gave man the Sabbath - one-seventh of his time for rest. One-seventh of life should be spent in quiet, restive, restorative pursuits.

In the hours of leisure we learn ourselves to know, and what to God, and what to man we owe.

Great poets, philosophers, artists, preachers, teachers, and artisans are born in the hours of leisure. The great thoughts that revolutionize the world and set new forces to work are born when man sits alone with God and in the world of nature.

The souls that have no Leisure, are the souls that have no Light.

It takes time, alone with God, to be transformed into a light-giving lamp. Jesus Christ needed it and we need it a hundred fold more.

Let us therefore burn our four lamps and keep them burning. Jesus speaks to us from heaven saying, “Let your lights shine.”