Just In Case

Tim Throckmorton

With a past in business and advertising I have always appreciated a memorable line. You know, the kind you just can’t get out of your head and remember for years. One of my favorite commercial lines over the years came from a motel chain that ended its ads with the words…”We’ll leave the light on for ya.” I’m a Southern Ohio boy and maybe it’s just the southern drawl that voices the line while at the same time I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like for the shepherds that night as the glory of the Lord shone round about them as they were the first to hear the good tidings of great joy. As we enter the Christmas season let us always be reminded of what this time of year is really all about.

It was the early part of WW2, and the war was raging. One brother was in a foxhole in Germany and his other brother was in India. His uncle was stationed at a base in Reno Oklahoma and a young soldier named Sam was waiting for orders to be shipped to some unknown destination, not knowing where. What made this young mans situation even more painful was the fact that it was Christmas time and it would be the first Christmas he would spend away from home and family. Just as he began to settle in and adjust to the reality that he wasn’t going to see his family this Christmas season a miracle took place. The commander of the base made an announcement that any one living within 150 miles of the base could return home for Christmas but they had to return within three days. Sam’s parents lived in Wichita Kansas 147 miles away. Within the hour Sam had his duffel bag packed and was standing outside the base trying to hitch a ride. You see all the buses and trains were filled with holiday travelers already. There was no chance to ride public transportation.

Soon a 1936 Chevrolet pulled up and offered him a ride. It was filled with a family on their way to Kingman Kansas, which is fifty miles west of Wichita, and they said they would be glad to help a soldier boy. As they drove it started to snow. At midnight the car skidded to a stop in Kingman and Sam got out of the car. Now he was only fifty miles away from home. He stood for a while under a dim streetlight that only seemed to make the cold crowd into his government issued clothing. Yet in spite of the cold, he was going home for Christmas. It wasn’t long before a man in a poultry truck stopped and picked up the soldier. Sam climbed into the cab and the driver pulled carefully onto highway 54 headed east toward Wichita. The going was slow, the wind was still strong and turkey feathers swirled around the cab of the truck as it rattled it’s way through the early morning hours of Christmas day.

Finally at 3:00 A.M. they came to the end of the lane where Sam’s parents lived. The wind had stopped by now and there were no streetlights. It was a cold still night lit only by the faint glow of the moon. Sam began the short walk down the lane toward home. As the snow crunched beneath his feet he noticed that there was not a light on as far as he could see, and yet, in the distance he noticed that in the window of his parents home there was one small light shining in the window. His father was very frugal and it was unusual for him to leave even a 2-watt bulb burning this late at night, and yet there it was. A little red Christmas light brightly tucked inside an old fashioned cellophane wreath. When Sam reached the house he climbed the steps, stomped the snow from his combat boots and rattled the screen door. Within seconds his father opened the door and peered out into the darkness until he recognized his boy. Soon all the lights were on and coffee was perking on the stove when Sam asked the obvious question. Dad why did you leave the light on in the window tonight? You knew where your boys all were and you were sure we wouldn’t be home. So, why did you leave the light on? His dad answered in his typical way, “oh I don’t know Sammy. I guess I left it on JUST IN CASE”

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” Is. 9:2 JUST IN CASE 2000 years ago God hung a light in eternity’s window. Just in case there was a boy lost in a storm, just in case there was girl who needed to find their way home. JUST IN CASE you were out in the cold, lonely and with no where else to turn. So this Christmas season whenever you see a light shining in the night remember God left the light on for you….JUST IN CASE.