We’ll leave the light on for you
In 1986 Tom Bodett first delivered the line “we’ll leave the light on for you” in a Motel 6 commercial (actually he ad-libbed that line, and boy did it stick).
The phrase reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas stories.
There was a man who faithfully took his Christmas lights down from his house on January 1 every year, rain or shine. It bothered him slightly that most of his neighbors would get the lights down in the days—and sometimes weeks—to come. But, rest assured, by the end of January, Christmas on his street was put away and people could wait in anticipation for the beautiful decorations to come out again the next December.
One year, however, this man’s next door neighbors not only didn’t take the lights down, but they left the lights on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, into February. This man didn’t know his neighbors very well, but what started out as a slight annoyance, became daily anxiety of “these folks sure are late“, evolved into a judgmental “these folks sure are lazy”, and finally turned into an angry “when are those stupid lights coming down?”
Finally he couldn’t take it anymore! On the last day of February he marched next door, rang the bell, and asked his neighbors what in the world was going on. That’s when he discovered the truth: This couple’s son had been serving in Afghanistan and was supposed to be home on Christmas Eve. This son had been seriously wounded in a brutal fire-fight on the day he was leaving, and he was recovering slowly. Christmas was this young man’s favorite time of year and he’d really been looking forward to coming home then. He was expected to be released soon, but because of transportation logistics, he could potentially arrive any time of day or night, so his parents decided to leave the lights up, and on, for him to enjoy when he finally came home.
Christmas is the Light of the world come to earth to give our hearts hope for a homecoming. Because this war-torn world we live in that seems to be more darkness than light isn’t home. Home is in God’s presence and His peace; home is full of the light of God.
When Jesus died on the cross he took His light and lifted it up for the world to see. His death on the cross is where God said “I’ll leave the lights on for you” When He died, the darkness was overcome, and the Bible says that anybody who receives His life can walk in light on this earth, and they will also be assured of a homecoming that will be more beautiful than anything they’ve ever seen.
Let’s be reminded this year that Jesus is the light of the world, that Christmas is a special time to celebrate that light, and that what we see here is no comparison to what will be experienced in the “country of our own” (Hebrews 11:14).