THE LIGHT IN THE WINDOW
(This is my favorite Christmas story. I know. It’s not Christmas, but a dear lady at the LaJunta Church asked me to write it for her. It’s a true story, originally told by my favorite preacher, my uncle Sam Stearman).
It was Christmas Eve day, early in the morning and the year was 1944. My father was involved in the China/Burma/India Theater of war, uncle Lloyd was in a fox hole in Germany and my uncle Sam was at the army base in El Reno, Oklahoma waiting for his orders to ship overseas. My grandparents lived in Wichita, Kansas and they knew it would be a lonely Christmas with all their boys involved in the Big War.
Shortly after day break a communiqué went out across that El Reno base stating that any soldier who’s home was within 150 miles of the base could have a three day pass for Christmas. Wichita is 147 miles from the base. Within the hour Sam had his duffle bag filled and stood outside the gates hoping to thumb a ride home for Christmas. He wouldn’t have been able to take public transportation if he’d had the money. The busses and trains were all filled with holiday travelers. So, there he stood, waiting.
In a short time a family in a 1936 Chevy pulled to the side of the road and invited Sam to climb in. He did. The car was occupied by a family of four traveling north to be with extended family for Christmas.
As they traveled, it began to snow. A perfect addition to the fact that Christmas was going to be special for Sam. Yet, in Oklahoma the snow doesn’t fall straight down making nice fluffy piles on tree limbs. No, it blows sideways. Oklahoma usually gets snow that was meant for Kansas.
As it snowed, the old roads grew slick. The car slid occasionally and eventually ended up in the ditch where workers for the WPA helped push it back on the road.
As they continued north the snow continued to fall. The sun sat and the evening grew into night when they finally drove into the little Kansas town of Kingman, fifty miles west of Sam’s destination in Wichita. The driver pulled the car to a stop under the one street light in town and informed Sam that they were continuing west. He stepped out of the car pulling his duffle bag after him and stood, a lonely silhouette under a dim street light as show continued to fall.
Within a matter of minutes a guy driving a poultry truck screeched to a halt and hollered to the snow dusted soldier, “Jump in. How far you goin?”
“To Wichita.” Sam answered. And off they went with snow flakes and turkey feathers swirling around in the cab of the old truck.
In the wee hours of the morning they finally slid into Wichita. Now the snow had stopped falling, the clouds had dissipated and the moon was beginning to shine brightly casting long shadows on the freshly fallen snow. When they came to the corner of Illinois and Maple, the driver stopped. Sam got out of the truck, thanked his new friend and started walking down the long dirt road to his parents home, crunching through the snow.
With the exception of the moon, the lane was dark. Not a light on in any house….except...down at the end of the road where his parents lived Sam saw one of those old fashioned red cellophane wreaths hanging in the window with one little four watt bulb burning brightly in it’s center. He was amused. Grandpa was “frugal.” What would cause him to leave a light on?
He approached the house, climbed up on the old wooden porch and stomped the snow from his combat boots and rattled the screen door. There was a stirring in the house and then the door opened and my grandfather looked out into the night to see his son standing, smiling from ear to ear. Grandpa swung open the screen door and welcomed his boy with a warm hug. By now, grandma was awake and they moved to the kitchen where coffee was put on and a few Christmas snacks were produced on little plates. They gathered around the table on, what was now, early Christmas morning. They laughed together and enjoyed the unexpected gift of being able to be together in such an unexpected way.
In time, Sam remembered the small light in the cellophane wreath and he asked grandpa, “Dad, I noticed the little light in the window. Why did you leave that light on? You know DeWayne was in China and Lloyd was in Germany and that I was going to be shipping out. You knew that none of us would be home for Christmas. Why did you leave the light burning?”
My grandfather answered in a way that was so simple, yet so profound. He simply said, “Oh….I don’t know Sammy. I guess I left it on…..just in case.”
2000 years ago, God hung a light in Eternity’s Window….Just In Case there would be a boy lost in the storm. Just in case there would be a girl away from home and seeking her way.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth in His should not perish, but have everlasting life.”