Today’s WAWA run, our final one of the year, was affectionally titled “Light Run”….and I think some folks thought o’ Coach Mike was serving up a layup to round out the season. You know….and easy paced jog along the streets of Myers Park. Then again, those who know me too well knew better! And while the pace was strong, it was do-able. And by “light run”, I instead served up a route that took us along two of my favorite holiday streets here in Charlotte: Picardy Place and Hillside Avenue.
Both streets lived up to all the expectations this morning. And despite a steady drizzle, our run group enjoyed the run, I think, even if no one was ready to admit it!
After the run, I shared a devotional that recalled some initial fear of darkness that I used to have. In my paratrooper days in the Army, we would often conduct parachute jumps in the middle of the night. As if jumping from a plane wasn’t scary enough, try doing it when you can’t even see the ground as you’re leaving the aircraft, carrying well over 100 pounds of parachutes and other gear.
The hardest part for me besides the obvious darkness, was the landing! We were taught to watch the horizon to know when the ground was quickly approaching. I’m serious….you CAN actually see a slight difference in shades where the skyline meets the horizon. And if you pay attention to that, you can more than likely anticipate when the ground will find your feet!
The noise and chaos of being inside an aircraft with other paratroopers followed by the rush of the aircraft engines as you leap out the door, were always followed by the dichotomy of quiet, stillness….and complete darkness when we gathered on the ground.
Silence was key, after all this was a military operation.
After rolling up our chutes, we’d reach down into our rucksacks and find the night vision goggles. Quick snap onto our kevlar helmets and the well-tuned military unit would be off on our mission.
There was always a sense of comfort and safety when I had some “light” with those night vision goggles to guide me along the way.
We all fear darkness, right?
Two thousand years ago was no different. Maybe even a little worse. There were no street lamps and certainly no night vision goggles. When the sun set, it was pure darkness. In those days, many lived by the theory to stay indoors for nothing good could happen in the darkness.
Think back to the story of our Savior’s birth. Shepherds lay awake in the fields watching over their sheep. Maybe they had campfires, but more likely they did not. I can even imagine a shepherd with his head resting again his favorite, fluffy sheep, not only to stay warm but also for a comfortable pillow.
Suddenly, one angel and then a heavenly host of angels appeared to announce the Savior’s birth.
Now imagine that. It’s quiet and dark outside and a flash of brilliant lights appear out of nowhere. Those shepherds must have feared for their lives.
And they did…initially. But we know how the story progresses. They were comforted by the angels’ words, this heavenly host that some scholars have described as million angels and lights! Shepherds were comforted by the lights. They felt safe….again.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about. (LUKE 2:8-15)
This holiday season, I hope you will remember three things….and this is my prayer for us as we wrap up another WAWA year:
First, don’t fear the darkness.
Next, embrace the light.
And finally….enjoy the season.
Merry Christmas all!