I will never forget when I woke up to the sound of someone prying the egress basement window open to our 1950s light blue rambler in St. Louis Park in the middle of the night.
Since this window was right below our bed, I woke to the terrifying sound of hands working to get the crank window open. All but frozen in fear, I shot out of bed and looked out the window that was above that egress window. Sure enough, something or someone was back there. I knew my first order of business was to protect my wife, so I did the only smart thing I knew. I ran for a weapon and a flashlight. Actually, the smart thing would have been to dial 911.
With my trusty ACME flashlight, of course, powered by a couple of dying AA batteries, I proceeded outside and ran to the opposite side of the house near the street. I carefully made my way around to the egress window side of the house from the road, maintaining a good distance. Should I have startled the burglar as he startled me, we could have a very unfortunate fight on our hands, and I wanted time to react. I lifted the flashlight toward the egress window and literally shouted (yes, literally), “Halt! Who goes there?” Not sure where that came from... My primal fear pulled that phrase from a Charles Bronson movie I must have watched as a child.
As I raised my flashlight and shouted, sure enough, two eyeballs were staring right back at me. Alerted to my presence, the crafty burglar fell straight to the ground and froze. He did not run away like I expected him to. What felt like eons of time, both of us were frozen in a rictus of fear. Somehow, I managed to release my legs from my frozen position and ran back into the house to call 911.
As I hung on the phone with the 911 operator, she was keeping me informed of the police actions. Surprisingly, the police arrived in a matter of minutes. They had turned their lights and sirens off so as not to alert the intruder. The 911 operator asked us to stay away from any windows and doors for our safety. From the other side of the room, we saw lights and heard a tussle. It was over.
The police came to my door to give me the news that they got him! Instantly, I started to breathe again, thankful that this punk would not be terrorizing any more families. The men and women in blue rescued us from a raccoon. Yes, it was a raccoon. To be fair, he was as big as a bear. That very embarrassing “welcome to the neighborhood” incident would have easily been avoided had my stupid flashlight provided enough light to see that the brazen dude was just a hungry raccoon looking for a midnight snack.
A Light Shines in the Darkness
When Thomas Edison flipped on his first light bulb in 1879, the world changed. The world changed because people could easily see. Things don’t look so scary in the light. Light provides context. The context that I would have much appreciated in St. Louis Park prior to me alerting the police.
Another light was flipped on that changed the world. The birth of Jesus Christ. This light shows us something that seems in short supply during 2020. Hope. But the Light has come.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12 ESV).
When you’re having a hard time seeing hope in the path ahead, turn on the light, the light of his Word! Look no further than 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
It seems pretty out of touch to call 2020 a “light and momentary affliction.” A global pandemic, record unemployment, political unrest, unprecedented isolation, just to name a few, do not describe light and momentary in my book! It might not in my book but it does in God's Book. Illuminated by Scripture, the Lord has been faithful in every instance in the past. He has seen his people through pandemics, persecution, politics and much more. And yet, the Word of the Lord is steadfast and true.
We can look at the hardships as light and momentary afflictions when we focus on the unseen according to 2 Corinthians 4:18. The seen is our current circumstances. The unseen is his eternal goodness, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, lovingkindness and faithfulness. Whenever you have a hard time looking forward, look back at God’s faithfulness. His unchanging nature assures his faithfulness will light the path forward with hopeful brilliance.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. - Helen Howarth Lemmel
Let there be light!
The Advent season begins four weeks before Christmas and is a time for us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus: his birth at Christmas and again at the end of this age. Each week of Advent has a traditional theme: hope, peace, love, and joy.