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  • Writer's pictureDale Hanks

More Light, Less Noise

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was under constant criticism for his handling of the conflict that was tearing our nation apart. Politicians, advisors, newspapers, and regular citizens were constantly assailing him for what he was doing, and/or what he was NOT doing.

After listening to yet another critique, Abraham Lincoln relayed a story of a cowboy who got lost while traveling the frontier. Here's what happened, according to Alexander K. McClure in his 1901 book, Lincoln's Yarns and Stories:

The President was bothered to death by those persons who boisterously demanded that the War be pushed vigorously; also, those who shouted their advice and opinions into his weary ears, but who never suggested anything practical. These fellows were not in the army, nor did they ever take any interest, in a personal way, in military matters, except when engaged in dodging drafts.

“That reminds me,” remarked Mr. Lincoln one day, “of a farmer who lost his way on the Western frontier. Night came on, and the embarrassments of his position were increased by a furious tempest which suddenly burst upon him. To add to his discomfort, his horse had given out, leaving him exposed to all the dangers of the pitiless storm.

“The peals of thunder were terrific, the frequent flashes of lightning affording the only guide on the road as he resolutely trudged onward, leading his jaded steed. The earth seemed fairly to tremble beneath him in the war of elements. One bolt threw him suddenly upon his knees.

“Our traveler was not a prayerful man, but finding himself involuntarily brought to an attitude of devotion, he addressed himself to the Throne of Grace in the following prayer for his deliverance:

“‘O God! hear my prayer this time, for Thou knowest it is not often that I call upon Thee. And, O Lord! if it is all the same to Thee, give us a little more light and a little less noise.’

“I wish,” the President said, sadly, “there was a stronger disposition manifested on the part of our civilian warriors to unite in suppressing the rebellion, and a little less noise as to how and by whom the chief executive office shall be administered.”


The noise we are subjected to day-in and day-out is deafening and fearful:

the constant din of war;

the caterwauling of the perpetually-triggered radical left;

the drumbeat of lies and distortions from politicians;

the non-sensical babble coming from social media;

the endless squawking of the mainstream media talking heads;

the mind-numbing shouts of people trying to put down others' beliefs; and

the drone of vulgarity and intolerance constantly bombarding us and our children.

It seems like an overwhelming darkness has consumed the world.


We know scientifically that darkness does not consume light.

LIGHT dispels darkness.

Each of us is an individuated, spark of light that can change the world of noise and darkness in which we live.

Those who dwell in the dark will run from the light when they're exposed. They will retreat further and further into their shadowy realms until the light ultimately overtakes them. And overtake them, it will.

Light wins. Always.

I've shared this personal story before, but it has special significance for me today on Christmas Eve. I grew up in a church that celebrated a special ceremony at its midnight Christmas Eve service. When people entered the sanctuary for the service, they were given an unlit candle. At the end of the service, the lights in the church were all turned off. In the darkness, the pastor held a single, lit candle. His light was barely visible in the darkened sanctuary. As the congregation sang Silent Night, that single flame was passed from one member of the congregation to another, until the entire church was bathed in light.

That experience perpetually reminds me as to why it's important for EACH of us to light our own candle--and hold it high to illuminate the path for others to follow. Collectively, we will overcome the darkness in our world.

And, lest you still have any doubt that the light IS winning...

On November 27 (for the first time in history), the 27 billboards in New York City's Times Square went dark. And then came this:

So, maybe our prayer for this holiday season should be the same prayer spoken by that poor cowboy:

"O Lord! If it is all the same to Thee, give us a little more light and a little less noise.’


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