You Wanna See the Light?
1 John 1:5-7
One of the things you notice working in schools is all the in things.
Something that is definetly in at the moment is skateboarding. And
this helps me to feel like I am back at high school since
skateboarding was in when I started High school. Not that I know
how to ride one. But it does cause me to cast my mind back. Back
more than a decade. Which I guess is beginning to get a little
When I was young... ger, everybody, all my friends were into
skateboarding and so I thought I should be, too. So when my
Birthday came round, I think it was my twelfth birthday, I asked for
a skateboard. My mum stood there stunned. She was shocked. All
my life I have been into team sports and so every birthday I would
ask for a football or a basketball or a soccerball. In fact this was the
only time I ever got something other than a ball until I was about
16. But my parents decided to get me one anyway. The problem
was the one they got me was the wrong one. I could use it just the
same as any other skateboard, badly. The problem was that this
was some Kmart brand. It was the wrong one. But I didn’t let that
stop me. So I took it out the back... and straight into the garage.
Grabbed some sandpaper and eventually I had a clean deck. Then
I got some paint and did my best impersonation of an Alva logo
because that was an acceptable brand. Put some new wheels on it
and now it was ready to impress. The only problem was that while I
was working on it my little brother had told some of my friends what
I was doing. I was found out. So I never rode the thing. The
following year I got a basketball. I learnt my lesson.
I tell that story because it illustrates a truth. We act the way we
think others want us to act. We all have facades or masks that we
put up so that we will be accepted. We put up images to others of
the sought of person we want them to believe we are so that we
will be accepted. We wear the right clothes. Talk the right talk. And
walk the right walk. The problem is that it is just not us. It is a
facade. A disguise. And pretty soon we’ll begin to feel like we are
just a sideshow attraction and like we have lost something,
something that was never seen. We’ll want to come into the light
and be ourselves.
Who can tell me what the school motto at Cardiff High School is?
Know Thyself. Two words expressing the simplest message. Know
thyself. But two words expressing one of the hardest of all tasks.
To know thyself is hard because we like to live in the darkness of
the image we present to those around us. We spend so much time
in the darkness of the facade that we have decieved ourselves and
we don’t know who we really are. We know that we can’t stay in the
darkness, we need to be oursleves and come into the light.
So if we want to escape the darkness, to see the light, why can’t
I know a thing or two about light and darkness. Some of you have
heard this story before. I go to college in Sydney. And last year to
make it to my Theology lecture at 8 o’clock on a Tuesday morning,
I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning. And at 4:30am it is pitch
black. Now I don’t know about you but at 4:30 in the morning I’m in
a coma. Before I went to college, I didn’t even know 4:30 came
twice in one day. But every Tuesday morning at 4:30 at the Short’s
house the alarm went off. Now the alarm clock we use is
Catherine’s and it goes like this. Beep! Beep! Beep! That wouldn’t
get me out of a daydream. And so every Tuesday morning, without
fail, Catherine would begin to push and shove and kick me in an
attempt to remind me that I’m the one who has to get up. And
amazingly, my hand flies out and lands on the button to shut it off.
And nine minutes later we do it all again. Because no-one...
no-one gets up after the first buzz, right.
And so at 4:39am, after the second buzz, my left foot says to my
right foot, “It’s your turn to get out first, I got out last time.” And my
right foot says, “na ah”. And I tell them both to shut up, cause I’m
trying to sleep. And so when I do finally get up... at 4:48am, after
the third buzz, I find out what toes are for. They’re for finding
furniture, at night, in the dark. Because even the sun has more
sense to be up between 4 and 5 in the morning. I figure if God
wanted me to see the sunrise he would have put it in the middle of
the day. At this time of the morning the wrong side of the bed is on
But the worst is yet to come. The thing that I dread the most
between 4 and 5 in the morning is walking into that bathroom and
flicking that switch to turn the light on. Oh the pain! I feel like
Mogwai the gremlin. “Bright light! Bright light!” Going into the light
is more painful than any furniture I kick and more painful than any
kick I receive from Catherine. I do not want to turn on that light
because it hurts so much. It is the place I most do not want to go
between 4 and 5 in the morning. Then again there is only one
place I want to be at that time... In bed.
You wanna see the light? Well you can but the problem is that it is
found in the place where you most do not want to go. Because to
go into the light is painful. When you go into the light you can no
longer wear the disguise. It is stripped away. Your true self is
exposed. Why is that painful? It is painful because there is a side
to us that we don’t want anyone to know about. If you’re anything
like me you yourself don’t want to know about it. But to escape the
darkness you need to move into the light and endure the pain.
Read 1 John 1:5-7
In teaching Christian Studies at Cardiff High I get a lot of questions
thrown my way. Last year I got an interesting question from a girl in
year eight. The question was, “If there is a God, why is he so hard
to find?” She wasn’t the first to ask this question. I’ve asked it.
Some of you here tonight may have asked it. Why is God so hard
to find? God is so hard to find because God is in the place where
you most do not want to go. God is light. To find God, to encounter
God is to step into the light. To endure the pain. To go where we
don’t want to.
To us who spend most of our lives in the darkness looking into the
light, we see a God who is so different from ourselves. So perfect,
so holy that we can’t begin to image that we can step into that light
and be in his presence. Something of this is expressed in the song
“Where Fishes go” by Live. The first verse reads.
yeah I found god and he was absolutely nothin’ like me
he showed me up like some dime-store hooker
who was plain to see
I couldn’t take it anymore so I went back to the sea
cuz’ that’s where fishes go when fishes get the sense to flee
When we are in God’s presence we see ourselves as we really
are. Like a dime-store hooker. And so we retreat to the sea, the
darkness, the facade. To hide from the light.
And so we are trapped. We are trapped in the darkness. We know
that there is something wrong with they way we live. We know
there is something missing, something stolen. The problem is that
something that is stolen is found only in the place where we do not
want to go. So we ride our disguised skateboards, hoping that
no-one will discover that it isn’t an Alva, merely a Kmart brand.
The question I want to ask is, “When you’re in the dark and you
know that when you turn the light on it is going to hurt, why do we
go ahead and do it anyway?” We do it because although it hurts,
we know our eyes will adjust and we will be much better off then in
the dark. The pain is nothing compared to being able to see where
we are going. And it is the same when we encounter God. The
Bible says that when we come into the light our sins will be
forgiven because of what Jesus has done for us. We will have a
new life in the here and now. A life of acceptance and in
relationship with the living God himself. It is then that we will no
longer feel as if something is missing. You will find a God who
wants to be in relationship with you. The second verse of this song
yeah I found god and he was absolutely just like me
he opened my mouth, looked down my throat
told me I was thirsty
he said, I been, I been, I been, been in this water all my life
never took the time to breathe, breathe, BREATHE!
When you endure the pain of the light long enough you will see a
God who is, yes, perfect, holy but a God who is every bit a person.
A God who became human, who cried, who laughed, who suffered,
who died so that we could come into the light and be saved.
About 150 years ago there was a terrible potato famine in Ireland.
Many hundreds of thousands left for America, or Australia or New
Zealand searching for a new life. One of these was a penniless boy
who hid as a stowaway on an ship bound for America. In the
mid-Atlantic the ship hit an iceberg and began to sink, but there
was time enough to get everybody into life-boats. Deep down, well
hidden in the darkness of the bowels of the ship, the boy wondered
why the motors had stopped, and he wanted to go and find out
why. But to leave the darkness of his hiding place would mean he
would be discovered. But the deadness of the ship scared him. So
he decided that he would leave his hiding spot and suffer the
As he emerged from his hiding place there was no-one around. He
came up on deck just as the captain of the ship was about to step
into the last seat of the last life-boat. In the highest tradition of the
sea, the captain stepped back and put the boy in his place. As the
life-boat was pushed off, the captain said to the boy: ‘Never forget
what has been done for you.’ As the life-boat pulled away, the boy
could see the captain standing on the deck, and that vision never
left him. He became a successful businessman in America, and
when people asked him about the secret of his motivation, he
always told the story of the captain giving his life for him:
‘Whenever I get discouraged and feel negatively about myself, I
recall the vision of what has been done for me, and it gives me
new courage to “keep on keeping on” to be worthy of such a price.’
Jesus died a long time ago in order that when you leave your
hiding place in the darkness and come into the presence of God,
You will not be rejected. You will be loved and accepted as
yourself. Will you leave your hiding place in the darkness and
come into the light? It will hurt, it won’t be easy. But that pain is
nothing compared to the joy being in the presence of the living
whatcha doin’ in this darkness baby?
when you know that love will set you free
will you stay in the sea forever?
drownin’ there for all eternity
whatcha doin’ in this darkness baby?
livin’ down where the sun don’t shine
come on out into the light of love
don’t spend another day
livin’ in the sea livin’ in the sea, yeah