It took some effort to photograph a candle burning at both ends. Here’s the inside scoop on the “special effects” it took to make it happen.
First, I had to melt away the wick on the bottom of the candle so it could be lit. I positioned a black poster board in a vertical position, poked a small hole in the middle of the poster and stuck a pencil through it with a needle sticking out of the eraser and into the middle of the candle. My able assistant, my wife Diann, held the pencil that held the candle from behind the poster board. I then lit the candle at both ends and quickly fired off several shots. One was the best, and it was accepted into my portfolio of images on Istockphoto. Apparently a number of people are thinking or writing about burning the candle at both ends, the photo’s sold 60 times (earning me $70 – I won’t be quitting my day job).
“Burning the candle at both ends” is an English idiom from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay in which she has the line, “My candle burns at both ends, It will not last the night…”It’s come to refer to working long hours with little rest, ungodly hours, which is an appropriate way to say it, for God’s call for us rarely is a call to work to exhaustion.
We live in a culture that affirms people who work to the extreme. Our favorite mantra is “I’m so busy” and it’s best said with a sigh. Hillary Clinton is known to burn the candle at both ends. She told the New York Times, talking about relaxing, “It sounds so ordinary, but I haven’t done it for 20 years. I would like to see whether I can get untired.” People like this are admired and emulated for their workaholism. This is not good!
The Lord considers rest so important that He made it one of His Ten Commandments. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…” (Exodus 20:8-9)
What is it about us that we’re tempted to work ourselves to distraction? Does it make us feel more important? Do we think we’re the only one in the world that can do all that we try to do? Are we not effective at setting boundaries for ourselves and for what others expect of us?
We regain a true sense of God’s calling on our lives when we realize we’re not to be busy all the time. Our greatest value is not in what we do but in who we are. We connect best to God, to others, and to ourselves when we put pauses in our lives: to sit, lay, rest, think, listen, and pray.
Jesus’ invitation to His original disciples is good advice for us to hear from Him as well. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)
Try to read this next sentence that has no spaces. Itisnotveryeasytodo. Our lives, like sentences, need spaces!