John Milton (12/9/1608 – 11/8/1674) was an English poet whose poems earned him international recognition. His body of work reflected his personal convictions on the issues of his day. One of my favorite sonnet’s entitled “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent“, was written by Milton.
Although most academic analysis’ of this work points to Matthew 25: The Parable of the Talents; I love this poem because it reminds me of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: specifically Matt 5:14-16, where Jesus speaks, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.“
Here is the complete work:
“When I Consider How My Light is Spent” by John Milton
When I consider how my light is spent,
ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
to serve there with my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide
“Doth God exact a day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Milton suffered from a degenerative loss of sight, and went completely blind by 1652. This poem reflects his own concern that loosing his sight might prevent him from using his talents in service of God. Although I have not suffered from such a loss, like Milton, I have found myself pondering the fulfillment of God’s purpose in my own life. Asking – How I can best serve Him? In what way can I meet my own desire to use the gifts He has placed in me, to glorify Him? Have I lost that opportunity?
I can make that as complex, or as simple as I like. But, no matter how He plans to use me, all God is asking is for me to open myself to his divine guidance and follow the path He lays before me.
Question: What does this poem say to you? Are you letting your light shine before others, or keeping it under a basket?
This post originally published February 20, 2014.