“The Light Of The World”
September 14, 2015
Riding through the abandoned Sideling Hill Turnpike Tunnel
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“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
This weekend I went on a men and boy’s campout with about 40 friends from our church in the mountains of central PA. It was rather rainy Saturday but we still managed to get out and have some fun including a trip to an Amish Hardware Store where we met a very colorful Amish businessman. Sunday it was beautiful and we held the worship service in an unusual place.
After an extremely hearty breakfast cooked over the open fire we headed out to ride through the Sideling Hill turnpike tunnel which was abandoned in the late sixties when the turnpike was rerouted. It was unused for many years due to it being in a remote, difficult to access, mountainous area. Eight years ago we rode through it for the first time and periodically enjoy returning. It seems there’s always someone who has never been on this adventurous ride before.
We have helmet flashlights and some mount a headlight to their bike. Even then the light is scarcely visible in the overwhelming darkness of the 6,782 feet tunnel. Many sensory distortions take place so you have to ride very carefully. Yesterday I was riding along with my tiny light focused on the ground about ten feet in front of my bike when I practically crashed into another rider since it’s so dark the reflectors don’t work.
This year I asked the group to gather in the middle of the tunnel for an unusual church service. We turned off all our lights and the only glimmer of light you could see were the tiny, faint outline openings at each end of the tunnel. Surely, the view within the tunnel is what you would call pitch black. Obviously I had to share from memorized verses and I highlighted one of the grand teachings of Jesus found in our daily text, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
Now it was an adventure to be in that darkness for a few minutes, an adventure I hope the boys especially remember. But I sure wouldn’t want to live in it! Yet many do and even get used to it. Several weeks ago we had a series of messages on spiritual troglomorphism, which is a condition of living in darkness to a point that sight is diminished or even lost.
Our Lord promises an infinitely better way to live our lives out here on our earthly journey. “I am the Light of the world” is one of the seven “I am” (Greek “ego eimi”) statements in John’s gospel. Many see these statements as an assertion of Christ’s deity based upon the encounter of Moses at the burning bush when the Lord spoke to him identifying Himself as, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14).
“He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness.” Persistent darkness is blinding and so is the darkness of sin. 1 John 2:11 states “But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
Jesus offers the contrast to walking in darkness. “But will have the Light of life” is the condition of the one who faithfully follows Jesus. May we all have a desire to live in God’s light!
In the middle of the tunnel we concluded our service by turning on our flashlights and singing, “This Little Light Of Mine” before continuing our ride through the dark tunnel. As I rode behind several of the younger boys making their way out of the tunnel, it was a joy to hear them continuing to sing, “This Little Light Of Mine” as they rode along. It is our prayer that each of us will always let Jesus, the Light of the world, shine through us!
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, though many of us have sung “This Little light of Mine” since we were small children we’ve often done the opposite of what we’ve sung. We’ve shined our light when it’s safe to do so where others are accepting of who we are as we walk in step with You. But we’ve also “hidden it under a basket” in settings where it was an unwelcome sight. If we are true followers of Christ we will not waver by concealing our light since the “Light of Life” dwells within us. Your indwelling light shows us the way in this land infiltrated with darkness. We choose to walk in the light of Christ which enables us to recognize and overcome the evil tactics of the prince of darkness. Amen.
The rain poured through most of the day Saturday so several of us headed over to an Amish hardware Store to buy ammo and sundry other items. The store was dark when we went in due to the dreary day so the young Amish clerk lit a gas lamp in whatever aisle we appeared to be showing interest. A few of our fellows also found rechargeable flashlights for a closer examination. The owner, a young Amish man, had a colorful personality and seemed pleased to have the out of town customers. If you’re ever over that way it’s Lantz Repair along 641 way out in the country!
The rain let up for awhile later Saturday afternoon and several of us took the customary downhill mountain ride. We pile our bikes into a trailer and drive to the very top of a mountain and ride/coast down squeezing the brakes practically all the way. The first half is a gravel lumber type road, then you have pavement. Being a bit older every year I tried to keep it below 35 mph due to the wet roads, but actually you can petal as fast as possible in your highest gear whatever that speed would be, and still are unable to catch up to your speed!
Nelson made a special grill with a chimney to get the smoke up. We had bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, fried potatoes with onions, peppers and whatever else might be tasty. Nelson (right in photo) even had seafood on the grill for those who like it as a breakfast choice.
Several of us didn’t rough it quite as much this year. Many years any bathing during the weekend is in a very cold mountain stream. The year Nelson, whose camp we use, had an outdoor shower installed behind his new cabin with hot water. And, considering that this is a group of Christian men and boys, attached a towel to the studs for a modesty panel. Obviously, this is a weekend that only men and boys could enjoy – I believe a number of the wives and mothers headed for the beach with much more comfortable accommodations.
Brooksyne joined up with White Oak Display, one of the companies we serve as chaplains, as their employees participated in Britney’s Hope, a Christian based ministry that sought to raise their $50,000 goal to provide 4,000 orphans with medical care for a year or 1,428 with food & clean water for a month.
We had the largest group present with 41 participants from White Oak Display. It was a rainy morning but only a light mist so participating in the “Walk of Love” was not a hardship, but rather a privilege.
Sunday afternoon Ester and I went to the Longwood Manor Personal Care Home where they had a “Community Day” with antique cars, food and games for the residents. Luke is playing bean toss as his wife Anna Mae looks on.
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