Friday, December 23, 2016

Twas The Night Before Christmas; December 24, 2016

Catchy title above, huh?

I'm not any more noble than the next person, but I hope I can share something that will be of meaning to you this holiday season.

If you don't regularly read what I write, maybe I got you here by taking a look underneath the proverbial hood.  Therefore, I need to deliver, right?

I'll do my very best.

I read something today which was written before last Christmas, but was shared by a Facebook friend and appeared in my news feed.

It is titled, "Kirsten Powers: Becoming a Christian Ruined My Love of Christmas".  The link is here.

A comment or two on that share in my news feed made it seem that I should know who Kirsten Powers is.

I admit I don't and I haven't even Googled her name, but what she wrote is more important than who she is.

The majority of us are getting ready - as I write - to spend time with family and friends (already perhaps) over the next few days.

If you are, regardless of what is going on - good or bad - with those individuals, covet and cherish that time.

I'll get to why I feel that way - and the motivation for me to write this evening - a little later.

I probably fail to share well enough that I believe in and have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.

And maybe the life I lead doesn't always imitate the most fervent and effectual follower of Christ.

If you do not believe in Jesus and something that I've done has been a stumbling block to you doing so, please let me know privately.

There's one situation that's visible that I don't make well known - not because I'm trying to hide anything, but rather that I don't purposely or inadvertently want to draw any more attention to it than is absolutely necessary.

It is why I navigate a large portion of my life as quietly as possible and do my best to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of others as well as to be an encouragement, when possible, to them.

But during this time the next few days, we have a tendency to miss the magnitude of the eternal importance in what we're celebrating - or to be celebrating.

Powers' reference on page 2 of what she wrote on Christianity Today about what Christmas is -- a “divine rescue mission” of humankind.

Those who do believe, we don't ask boldly, as Powers wrote, "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?” - or also "Have you accepted?" - enough.

It is my hope every day that I have more of a boldness to do so tomorrow than I did today.

I've even been in a couple of congregations around the country this year in my travels that didn't make that specific invitation as part of their service.

It didn't malign the message, because I believe that God's word never returns void, but it did - to me - represent a missed engagement.

I challenge you to spend a few moments if you've made it this far to think about those you know who is not here with us this Christmas and holiday season.

It might be a family member.  Could be a friend or a business associate.

May even be those that are suffering in places half way around the globe that we wish we could safely go and do something about.

We all know - or are aware - of somebody.

Please pray for peace and comfort for those individual's loved ones in the days and weeks to come.

Some of us have lost loved ones years ago that still feels like their passing was just yesterday.

I was going through pictures here on my lap top earlier and found the last picture that I took of my sister, Holly.

Holly Munsinger, Christmas Eve 2013
As you can see, she didn't look like herself.

Eleven days later, on my birthday, January 5th, she was admitted to the hospital.

And a day after that, she was rushed to the ICU from her room and none of us ever had the opportunity to communicate with her again as she passed away 11 days later.

We didn't realize it until after she was in intensive care that the steroids that she was taking to manage the pain associated with the steel rods in her back separating from her spine caused her to not only put on weight, but also weakened her immune system allowing her to catch the flu and caused pneumonia.

But these situations, even though we know that our life is "even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away", should re-focus our efforts to fervently love those closest to us - with the time remaining - as well as those we come in contact with.

Just a few weeks ago, I was in Belton, Texas - about two and a half hours west of here - for a memorial service for a former business partner of my father's.

The deceased (and his family) was (is) Catholic and one of the things that really touched me - especially now that I learned that it is a ritual of a Catholic Mass - was the greeting to one another at the end of Mass for peace to be with you.

It is one of the things that I've tried to focus on more and more and that is to be in a place of peace as much as possible.

Maybe it is something that is a possible immediate goal for you or for the year ahead.

Prayer certainly helps in this, but removing oneself from people that have a tendency to either sow discord in our world or situations that take our eyes off Jesus and what He has in store for us may also help too.

I know that I've painfully had to remove myself from the noise of some as well as direct my eyes elsewhere because what I was starting to focus on - I know from past experiences - will disrupt the peace that I've been working to achieve in my life.

I've very thankful, especially as I get older, for each day that I'm given.

It is the first thing when I pray that I thank God for.

I just want to make the absolute best of each moment that I have to do what's right and to encourage as many people as I possibly can to lead similarly happy, peaceful and productive lives.

Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope that I get to see you sometime soon.

Merry Christmas.

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