At one time my old family business, based in Tennessee, opened a fabricating facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Across the street from our new plant was “U and Me Transfer and Storage,” (see photo) which we hired to move a lot of our machinery. We sent one of our supervisors to Florida to help set the shop up. The shop foreman in Florida told the Tennessee man that “U and Me would move this in,” and “U and Me will deliver this tomorrow,” and so on. Finally the Tennessee man threw his hands up in exasperation and asked, “When’s You and Me going to have to time to do all this?”
The plant was formally called the “Special Products Division;” one of those special products was a light trailer, shown at the left. This is useful if you want to do construction work at night; just set it up, turn on the generator, turn on the lights and work. In the U.S., with the problems of doing road construction during the day, these handy devices get a workout while crews attempt to repair or rebuild our roads at night.
Back in Tennessee, the company’s main product line went on, which was building pile drivers, many for the offshore oil industry. These machines are most easily put together vertically; you put the base on the ground, stack the ram and the columns on top, then the cylinder, tie the hammer together, lay it down on a flat bed truck and ship it (the stacking is shown at the right.) Because the hammers got so big, we did a lot of this outside, using truck cranes.
One evening we were stacking yet another hammer for shipment. It got dark; the truck was waiting for us, there was no question of waiting until the morning. The supervisor got the light trailer out, fired it up and turned it on so the men could see what they were doing and finish up. Unfortunately the plant was in a residential area. When we turned the lights on, the residents didn’t like it, so they started shooting at the plant. Needless to say, our employees and the poor truck driver found it hard to work with bullets whizzing past them.
Most residential areas like some additional light, but there are always exceptions, and obviously this was one of them. Unfortunately many people and areas don’t like the light being shined on them–any kind of light.
“…though the Light has come into the world, men preferred the darkness to the Light, because their actions were wicked. For he who lives an evil life hates the light, and will not come to it, for fear that his actions should be exposed…” (John 3:19-20) In a world where privacy is evaporating, people still don’t like their deeds to be known. In some cases this is due to the shifting sands of our legal systems; what is okay one day is punishable by life imprisonment the next. But much of our aversion to the light is because we know that what we are doing is wrong, legal or not. We make excuses like “I’m not a bad person,” not really understanding what that means or how it might be fixed if we are in fact a bad person. We know we are hurting others–we know we are hurting ourselves–but our main motivation is not to get caught, not to have the light shined on our deeds.
“But he who acts up to the truth comes to the light, that his actions may be shown to have been done in dependence upon God.” (John 3:21) Our God doesn’t need to turn on his light trailer to find out what’s going on in our lives and in our selves; he has “night vision” so to speak, and he knows what we are doing even if no one else does. But he doesn’t want us to just go on in the darkness until we stumble and break our neck. “Jesus again addressed the people. ‘I am the Light of the World,’ he said. ‘He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life.'” (John 8:12) It is his desire that we walk in his light and live in his love. Just as we used a light trailer to do our work outside the plant, so if we have Jesus Christ in our lives we can live as God’s child even under less than ideal circumstances. If you need to make him first in your life, click here.
For those of us who have been in the light, there’s a warning in this story too. We’re always talking about shining the light in the world, but this story illustrates that, even if we’re just shining the light on ourselves, others may not like it. Making religion a “private matter” may not help. Think about it: if you’re in an office, say, where everyone is having affairs and shacking up and you’re not, if you think your colleagues won’t come after you sooner or later, you’re not living in reality. No matter how low of a profile you take, the fact that you will not go along with what’s going on around you will make you a target, one way or another. That goes for churches too; that’s the main reason why churches are forced to go on the offensive whether they really want to or not. (Most don’t; that’s why church people are referred to as sheep.) But there’s encouragement for that too: “That which came into being in him was Life; and the Life was the Light of Man; And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness never overpowered it.” (John 1:4-5)