(the lights from the first night of Chanukah)
I learned something on the second night of Chanukah.
I learned to trust that God will provide.
I have a small box of Chanukah candles that I bought last year on clearance. That was the first year that I have lit Chanukah candles. If I did it the normal way, by the time the whole thing is done the entire box would have been used. That is 44 candles. That seemed really wasteful.
What I did instead that first year was to light them and say the prayers, let them burn for maybe ten minutes and then I’d blow them out. I’d use the same candles over and over, so over the course of the holiday this meant that the candles were different heights and looked very odd. There was a definite slope downward to the right where the first night’s candle was, which had been burned the most.
This year I learned that not only are the candles supposed to burn for at least 30 minutes, but the woman of the house is not supposed to work for those 30 minutes. I’m not one for sitting still, so I decided to dedicate that time to making 4 x 6 collages.
I’d started making these this year and posted some here, but got out of the habit of assembling them. I’d taken the time to cut out and sort words and pictures already, so I really have no excuse. The funny thing is that so many of my craft projects are like “There’s a hole in the bucket” song – where in order to do one part, I have to do another part, and I have to do yet another part to get to that part. So sometimes I don’t do anything at all. I’m learning to break up the projects into small bits so that I feel that I’ve gotten something done. Since I already have all the pieces, it is easy to do at least two of these while the candles burn.
This year, while making the collages, I looked at the candles on the second night and saw how lopsided they looked already after letting them burn the longer time the first night. I got up and blew them out.
And then I thought about it. Part of what is celebrated in Chanukah is the miracle that the oil that was supposed to only last for one day lasted for eight. They needed to rededicate the Temple after it had been desecrated, and didn’t want to wait. It took eight days to make more oil, but they knew that it was too important to delay. They lit the light anyway, and God made it last long enough until the new oil was ready.
It is about trusting that God will provide for our needs.
Why was I being so guarded about these candles, only letting them burn for a little bit? I got them on sale, after all. Even before that, they cost $7. I can buy another set next year. They’ll make more.
Things are tight right now, with my husband out of a job, but even before that I’ve lived like a pauper most of my life. I was raised poor. Not having much is my normal. Worrying about future finances was part of my training.
We are comfortable, but not set by any means.
But God is using these candles to teach me something important.
I relit the candles and watched them, delighting in their cheery light.
I don’t think God wants us to be wasteful – certainly not. I think that God wants us to be good stewards of what we are given.
What does Jesus teach us?
Jesus tells us in the story of the loaves and fishes that God can make the little we have much more. We have to give thanks first, and we have to give what little we have away. This isn’t about making more money and hoarding it.
Jesus tells us in the story of the ten talents that we have to use what we are given. God gives us resources (as they said in my previous church – “time, talent, and treasure”) to use them for God’s glory, not our own, and not to hide away.
Jesus tells us to not worry about anything, that God provides for the least of the creatures, so surely God will take care of us.
So this was the gift that God gave to me – to trust, and not be afraid. To not think that I have to do it all. To remember that everything comes from God, and God can do anything.