You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14a
In August 1874, a Methodist minister organized a Sunday school training camp beside beautiful Lake Chautauque in upstate New York. Families came for 2-week camps that combined recreation, entertainment and Sunday school sessions. It was an enormous hit, and over the next several decades, the “Chautauque Circuit” spread to other areas and quick outgrew its origins.
Performers, musicians, lecturers, and motivational speakers traveled the country, staying at these camps. Enormous audiences gathered to enjoy Broadway hits, popular plays and even stars from the Metropolitan Opera, and Theodore Roosevelt called the Chautauque Circuit, “The most American thing in America.”
In 1912, Ina Duley Ogdon received an invitation to be a Chautauque Circuit speaker. Having long felt God’s calling on her life, she was tremendously excited by the opportunity. But, as she was packing for the tour, her father was seriously injured in an accident. Ina, deeply distressed, cancelled her travel plans to care for him.
Though bitterly disappointed, she surrendered her disappointment to God and trusted His purposes. Making up her mind to be a blessing wherever she was, she concluded that even if she couldn’t minister to thousands, she could be a blessing to her father, and those around him. She sat down and wrote… Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do; Do not wait to shed your light afar; To the many duties ever near you now be true; Brighten the corner where you are.
After this poem was set to music, it was discovered by the song director for Billy Sunday’s evangelistic campaigns. He was so taken by the song that he made it the theme song of his ministry, and became one of gospel music’s most popular and uplifting songs.
Instead of speaking to thousands, Ina has ministered to millions. Including each one of us today. Brighten the corner where you are this summer: