Sale!

Sale!

    “50%off” That was two days ago. Now it’s Christmas morning.  The “magic” of Christmas was going cheap before the day had come … and gone.  Could it be that those ads and commercials touting the latest, the best, the brightest to make our lives better, easier, more satisfied could have the cherished objects deeply discounted even up to 75% off before the day has even come?

You can fool some of the people all the time.  You can fool all of the people some of the time.  So which one are we?  Why is it so hard to see through the empty promises which fill the air waves, internet and print leading up to the ‘magic’ day of Christmas?

Perhaps it is because they are telling us what we want to hear.  We want to believe that if we had enough money or the right pill, or even Mr./Mrs. Right,  life would live up to our dreams.  Anything or anyone who plies our imagination with enough ‘magic’ surely gets our attention.

But, as you read this the ‘magic’ day has come and gone and the New Year beckons or has arrived.  By now the wrapping paper is in the trash, perhaps the tree and tinsel are taken down, and we are still the same.  We are pestered with the same aches, pains, disappointments and heartbreaks that all that ‘magic’ was supposed to fix.

God alone can fix us.  Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity was to continue the same behavior with expectation of a different outcome.  Surely now, as we contemplate 2014 with bulging bathroom scales, empty pocketbooks, and the excitement of Christmas 2013 now all but forgotten, we are ready for a new approach to life.

January 6 heralds the visit of the Wise Men to the manger.  Will it find us wiser and seeking the Savior and His Solution to the unfulfilled life?

PCS

Sand blowing on the Kelso Dunes, California.

Sand blowing on the Kelso Dunes, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PCS

“Permanent Change of Station” or PCS is what we called it in the military when we were assigned to a new location.  “Temporary Duty Assignment” or TDY is what we called it when we were only to be there for days or a few months.  When TDY I sometimes stayed in a tent, an old WWII barracks and even a spare bunk in the bottom of a ship.  We learned to ‘make do’ because it was just for a little while and then we would be back home.  Home.  That was where our family, friends, regular meals, car and all the things that made life more fulfilling were.

Being in war games out in the Mojave Desert many years ago, living out of a duffle bag at the end of my cot, I was thankful not to have too many things to try to keep up with because there wasn’t room for them. They would have gotten in the way of my job and besides all that the desert wasn’t my home assignment.

Christmas is about a permanent, PCS assignment.  This world is a temporary, TDY assignment.  Things didn’t start out that way.  God set up the Garden of Eden to be a permanent place but then we messed that up.  From that day to this our world has become a TDY assignment.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem to die and change all that.  His death was the price for a PCS assignment out of this world where there would be no pain, suffering, sickness, poverty or death.  For most of us Christmas is not the idealistic painting of a perfect life in a perfect family in a perfect village.  For most of us, the celebrations are merely a pause, or not even that, along what can be a grueling journey of life.  Thanks be to God that the Reason for the Season is that we now have a way out of this temporary assignment.  When Christ returns or our body dies, our trust in Him brings with it orders for a Permanent Change of Station!

Christmas Gifts

Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas Gifts

 

Christmas, the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday, falls on December 25th this year!  But I think I started seeing the first hints of Christmas advertising in August.  I knew a woman in Florida who kept her Christmas tree up all year.  Americans’ are expected to spend about $801 per person this Christmas.  This boils down to about $550 for gifts, $100 food and candy, $50 decorations, $30 greeting cards and $20 for flowers.
Why?  Some believe the tradition of gift giving at Christmas goes back to pre-Christian times in Rome and was simply adopted by the early Church.  Wherever it came from it is firmly rooted.  Most of us have memories of gift giving that includes looking at shelves piled high with everything from after-shave to wooden puzzles scratching our head wondering what uncle, aunt, cousin… might like.  Or then there is what has sometimes been called the ‘dirty Santa’ ritual of exchange at Christmas parties.
One of my early Christmas memories growing up in West Virginia was the time I saw an elderly woman carrying a heavy bag of groceries down a snowy sidewalk.  I stopped my car and asked if I could give her a ride.  Carrying her bag to the door of her ram shackle home I saw light coming through the boarded walls and broken glass in the windows.  As I helped her with her things I saw little in her cupboards.  I knew I had to do something.  I couldn’t rest until I found a way to go back and cover her windows and bring more food.  It is a vivid memory because of all the Christmas memories of my childhood it is the happiest.   I did grow up in a loving home with my parents and two brothers but this memory stands out.
Why?  “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:35-6). …”Master, what are you talking about?” they respond.  “I’m telling the solemn truth:  Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”
Who do you see around you ignored?  Whose birthday is it anyway?

Where did I put my leg?

Where did I put my leg?

  PT  “I want my leg back.”

I didn’t exactly lose it.  I just loss some use of it due to an injury.

Eighteen.  That was the number of times I was allowed to have physical therapy.  Very quickly I learned that getting my leg back, or rather the use of it, depended on how well I listened to and followed the direction of the physical therapists at Betsy Johnson Hospital.  Now the physical therapy department there is very, very good, but they can’t perform miracles.  They can understand the problem, diagnose the best solution and direct my exercise.  From there, the rest is up to me and how well I follow their direction.  If I don’t ‘get my leg back’, I can’t blame anyone but myself.

I think everyone wants to live forever.  I know I do.  I have spent the last 41 years of my life studying the Scriptures for I find in them the same kind of direction to find a relationship with God and to grow in that relationship which I find in the physical therapists’ direction for ‘getting my leg back’.

Week after week men and women of God the world over seek to help those whom God sends them ‘get their life back’ or find their life, their true life.  That Life is full, rich and satisfying and is just what God wishes for us.  It is not illusive but easy to find.

In the four weeks after my injury before I began physical therapy I tried to discover the best way to help me ‘get my leg back’.  After beginning work with trained physical therapists I learned that some things I was doing were helping and some things were hurting my progress.  So now I have listened and I have changed.  Now I am getting better day by day.

Like the men and women of God the world over I wish people would listen to spiritual direction from those of us whom God has commissioned, trained and sent into the world to help that world.  I wish the world could understand that just as my failure to listen to and follow the directions of the therapists means that I likely would not heal,  failure to listen to and follow direction in how to find and maintain a healthy relationship with the living God will result in a far worse outcome than just ‘losing your leg’.

If you know you are far away from God’s grace and love you do not have to stay that way.  There are those sent by God to help you find Him and find Life in Him.  Seek them out.  If you will listen and follow Godly direction you will find Life.