John Kennedy used this story in so many of his speeches. It concerned Colonel Davenport, the speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives in another century.
In the days before Connecticut became a state, an incident occurred there that has become known as “the dark day.” Suddenly thick darkness probably the result of an abnormal atmospheric conditionblotted out the sunlight. The colonial legislature was in session at the time, and some of its members concluded that the day of judgment had come. The cry went forth, “It is the day of judgment! Let us go home and get ready!” However, an old church deacon who was in the legislature stood up and said, “Brethren, it may be the day of judgmentI do not know. the Lord may come. But when he does, I want Him to find me at my post, doing my duty up to the very last moment. Mr. Speaker, I move that candles be brought in and that we get on with the business of the colony.”
The Master gave us simple instructions to occupy till He comes. I, too, prefer to be found doing my duty and not to default every time some howler of calamity sound the siren. Jesus would not ask me to “occupy” were it His knowledge that I must be smothered by the unleashing of a nuclear inferno. Dark days do not always mean judgment.
How necessary it is to remind ourselves that success in life often depends upon little things. This is especially true in a day when so many people are afflicted with what we might call “the greatness syndrome.”
The saintly Horatius Bonar, reflecting on this subject, realized that the little things can either make or break the Christian. He wrote, “A holy life is made up of a multitude of small things. It is the little things of the hour and not the great things of the age that fill up a life like that of the apostles Paul or John, or David Brainard, or Henry Martyn. Little words, not eloquent speeches or sermons; little deeds, not miracles or battles, or one great heroic effort or martyrdom, make up the true Christian life. Its the little constant sunbeam, not the lightning, the waters of Siloam that go softly in their meek mission of refreshment, not the waters of the rivers great and many rushing down in torrent, noise, and force, that are the true symbols of a holy life.”
Bonar then warned against the “little evils, little sins, little inconsistencies, little weaknesses, little foibles, little indulgences of self and of the flesh, little acts of indolence or indecision, or slovenliness or cowardice, little equivocations or aberrations from high integrity, little bits of covetousness, little indifferences to the feelings or wishes of others, little outbreaks of temper, or crossness, or selfishness or vanity.”