A friend named
Tom tells about a night when he was a teenager. He and his friends were walking
around the neighborhood. It was a warm night and very dark. Suddenly one of
them saw a police car and shouted. They hadn’t done anything wrong, but they
didn’t want to be seen, either. So they began to run. The police car saw them
and watched them turn down an alley. Tom tripped and knocked over some trashcans.
The police officers got out the car and began to go after them. One of the officers
turned on a searchlight. Tom looked around for his friends, but didn’t see them.
All he saw was that burning, searing searchlight, looking for him.
Tom jumped behind
those trashcans, only to find his friends huddled there. With frantic energy
they tried to hide, pulling trash over their heads and hoping to blend in. The
spotlight fell on Tom. “Come out where we can see you,” said the voice
behind the light. Tom stood up where he was, covered in garbage.
you doing?” said the voice.
The voice said,
“I can’t hear you. What are you doing?”
Tom said, “Officer,
I wasn’t doing anything wrong; I saw the light, I ran, I knocked over these
garbage cans. I’m sorry about the disturbance.” The searchlight was beaming
into his eyes, blinding him. He stood there in the light with nowhere to hide.
Then the voice
said, “I think I recognize you. Don’t you live around the corner?”
he stammered. His heart was racing, and he thought to himself, “My life
is ruined. If I don’t get arrested for disturbing the peace, something worse
will happen: this officer is going to tell my parents.”
But then the voice
behind the light said something unexpected. “Son, I’m not here to punish
you; I’m here to protect you.” As he stood before that searchlight, Tom
says he caught a glimpse of what it means to stand before Jesus, who is the
Light of the World. There he was, fully exposed yet completely protected. He
was fully revealed, yet free from unnecessary punishment. He stood hip-deep
in garbage, yet cleaner than he had ever felt, somehow cleansed by a light that
cast no shadow. In that moment, he saw something of what it means to stand in
the presence of Jesus Christ, who is full of truth and full of grace.
Praying for a Whole New World by William G. Carter
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