Summary: To introduce the series of where God wants to take the church this year.
[S] I want to tell you a story that occurred around Christmas around 1980 give or take a year. It was Christmas break in Fort Lupton, Colorado and me and two of my friends had gone duck hunting on the Holton farm which included the North Platte River. A fresh coat of powder snow had fallen overnight so there was 6”-8” of fresh snow on the ground and it was still snowing although it had tapered off. Bobby, Phil and I hopped in my dad’s 1972 4 wheel drive Chevy Blazer and once at the farm started to follow the white snow covered tire lanes through the fields. The snow had started falling heavier as we took our places along the river banks. Soon the little flakes turned into white silver dollar pancakes floating to the ground. Before long snow was starting to pile up as the snow came down and lots of it. And then the winds rose and the temperatures plummeted. We didn’t think anything of it and so we hung around until it dusk. And that was a mistake because before we realized it we were in a full blown blizzard.
We made it to the Blazer, started it up and began to the drive back to the farm house but the visibility was horrible. We couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us. We couldn’t even see our tire tracks from when we drove out earlier which is what we needed to follow to get back out. And then it happened. It felt like the earth opened up and swallowed the Blazer. We tried to open the doors to get out but couldn’t because of the snow. So, we opened the upper half of the tailgate, jumped out and quickly realized the Blazer wasn’t going anywhere. We had driven into an old eroded stream bed that had filled in with drifting snow.
We were stuck in a field in the middle of a blizzard as the sun went down. A blizzard that would end up dumping two feet of snow that night combined with single digit temperatures. And to top it off, this was before cell phones.
We had two choices. Stay with the Blazer and ride out the storm not knowing how long or how bad it might be and deal with the consequences of worried parents later. Or, try to walk back to the Holton home with worsening conditions and visibility. And to top it off, without being able to see landmarks, we really had no idea which direction that was. We decided to walk. And to make sure we didn’t get separated we walked single file with a hand on the back of the one in front of us.
It wasn’t too long after that that I wondered if this had been a good decision. We had been walking a little while and had no idea where we were or where the Blazer was at this time when we literally stumbled into a barbed wire fence. We were so thankful because it gave us something to hold on to in the wind. We also hoped that it would lead us somewhere better than where we were. But, we didn’t know which way to go. So we just kept heading in the same direction.
Sweaty, cold, numb, tired, and thirsty the ordeal was starting to take its toll. We were slowing down, having to wait on each other and encourage each other. I don’t remember how long we had been walking when someone yelled, “Light!” “Light!” “I think I see a light!” “Do you see it?” “Over there!” I looked up but didn’t see anything. And then fading in and out as if choreographed with the gusts of snow I saw a hazy light appear. “I see the Light!” We were so elated that we let go of the barbed wire fence and lumbered through the drifting snow towards the light. With each step the light grew brighter and brighter. It seemed like we would never get to it. But we did. And when we did it turned out to the big mercury light attached to a telephone pole on the backside of the Holton’s farmhouse.
We knocked on the back door and when the Holton’s opened it they were startled to see us. They thought we had left long ago. After melting the ice and snow off the zippers we crawled out of our insulated overalls and were served hot chocolate and soup. It never felt so good to be home.
Oh, what a difference that light made for the three of us that night.
I want to tell you another Christmas story about a light that makes a difference. This one was first told by John, one of Jesus’ disciples.
[S] “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.