Last night we had our book study group at the church. The book is entitled Messy Spirituality and is written by Michael Yaconelli. It is a wonderful book … if you are near a book store in the near future pick it up … or order online of course. In it Yaconelli describes a life of discipleship and talks about how being spiritual is not a clean cut affair. In one of the chapters we looked at last evening he has a quote from Nelson Mandela. It goes like this –
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech
I was quite taken by this. We often excuse ourselves from being responsible people of God by hiding behind our insecurities. God knows I have enough of them and there lots of moments when I hide behind them. Reading these words which are so authentic coming from Mandela left me asking “why can I not embrace light? – why should I shrink? We are, as Mandela points out, “born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us.” He certainly showed that in his life. I lately have felt a lot of liberation from my fears. We can all make I difference in the lives of those around us. Mandela did not set out to be a prisoner – he became one because he chose not to shrink, he chose not to be governed by fear. He let his light shine – We should all be so brave!