It was shaping up to be a long ugly summer. Several nights a week, a gang of teenage boys settled in at the church picnic pavilion with a case of beer. They partied right below our second story bedroom window.
After tipping a few, the boys became obnoxiously loud, vulgar and destructive. For hours they would do this while my wife and I attempted to sleep. They would eventually leave behind a sea of amber shards and a vandalized facility.
I so badly wanted to stop it. I lay on my bed each night and conspired. Maybe I could tie a skunk to the picnic table before they arrive or dress up in a scary sheet and become the ghost of parties past, or maybe I should just give them a piece of my sleep starved mind.
I hesitated because I knew what would happen. (I had once been one of those drunken fools.) I could chase them away, but they would be back later to knife the tires of my car.
One evening I read Jesus’ words in Matthew with fresh insight. He said, “You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.” – Matt 5:14-16 NETBible ®
Ah yes, I knew what I needed to do.
It was Friday about dusk when they showed up again. I grabbed my Bible and walked over. They were sprawled out on a picnic table. I sat down at the other end of the pavilion.
I opened my Bible and began reading without a word being said. My presence was about as welcome there as a porcupine at a nudist colony. They were annoyed, but I kept my head down and read.
Eventually one called over and asked, “Hey man, what are you doin’?” I said, “I’m reading.” “Oh,” he said. Several minutes later another voice called out of the twilight. “What are you reading?” “The Bible!” “Oh” he said.
Five more minutes passed till he asked, “Why are you reading the Bible?” I walked over and told them. I even shared the Gospel, but they were already filled and not with the Holy Spirit.
They did, however, apologize for being rowdy and destructive. I thanked them and returned to my corner and resumed my reading, although it was pitch dark by then.
Then, suddenly they all arose and began to tidy up the place with the urgency of a Nascar pit crew. They picked up the trash, rearranged the furniture, put their empties back in the case and quietly carried it to the car – and left.
– – What happened?
Sin revels in the shadows. It is most comfortable where light is absent. So, I simply took my light into their dark rowdy room. My presence there caused them to be curious and uncomfortable. It created in them a sense of shame and remorse and I hardly had to say a word. Their sin just wasn’t fun anymore, so they left (and the party never returned)
That’s what happens when we turn on a light – the darkness disappears.
A work place can be a messy place. Lots of vulgarity and an absence of ethics. If we were to play on the company softball team it might bring some light to that darkness.
The neighbors aren’t so neighborly. They like to snipe at each other. What if we did a block party one evening and let our lives be the light?
Light illuminates the way forward, but not until it first exposes the need. May you and I be used by God to bring that kind of influence to our world.