For those who draw a strict line in the sand and say that anything “religious” in nature should not be conveyed in the public arena, even around the holidays – go ahead and close out from my post now because you won’t like the ending.
This is a special time of the year for me. It wasn’t always, but it is now. Like some, I used to dread Christmas because it was so hurried and shallow and I would spend a fortune on gifts for people that never spoke to me the rest of the year. Of course, as a kid I thoroughly enjoyed it because of the loot that was coming my way, mostly by people that I wouldn’t talk to again until the next year.
I’ve always embraced the Christian meaning behind Christmas. I was born into a Christian family. We attended church weekly – I was 13 years old before I missed my first Sunday church service! As a child, I made the decision for myself that I needed a Savior and that I gave my life to Jesus Christ as a result. Did I fully understand theology when I made that decision – no. I didn’t. I still don’t, and I won’t until I enter Heaven one day and have some things revealed to me. I wasn’t perfect after making that decision – I was far from it. I’m still far from it today. But I do make constant attempts to represent my life well as a Christian.
I’ve never been someone who attacked other religions or those who believed in them. I tried to ask questions and understand them and see if there was any common ground. Sometimes there was, and sometimes not. I’ve treated people well. Respected others. Was kind to others. I believe people can disagree without being rude, condescending, or saying hurtful things. Crazy idea, huh?
A couple of years ago, I had cancer. It was a crazy and stressful time for those around me, and I understand why because of all of the unknowns. For me, I had a peace with the situation and felt like God was in control no matter the outcome. That’s not to say that I didn’t have times when I was frustrated, or sad, or even angry…I had those times and God is big enough to handle my temper tantrum. One of the motivating factors for me though to try to overcome and live was to experience as many of these special times per year as possible with my wife and my daughter. There were moments where we didn’t know if we would have one more Thanksgiving or one more Christmas together, and because of that – it makes each one now even more special.
This time last year, we sat beside a bed that had been set up in my sister-in-law’s living room. She was Stage 4 Colon Cancer, and we didn’t know if she would make it to Christmas or not. Each day she was wearing away and we knew with certainty that the end was near. She was 39 years old with three sons, one of them recently adopted and 4 years old. The oldest would turn 16 the day after she passed away. We were thankful that we got to experience Christmas with her, and a few days later, she took her last breath.
The holidays, for my family, are a mixed bag of reactions. For me, we have thankfulness and relief and joy that I am cancer free. For Julie, we miss her terribly and Christmas brings back a rush of not so found sights and sounds, but an attitude of thanks that we were with her last year. Yes, Christmas has a whole new emphasis to me now. Another milestone reached for one, and another tear shed for another who didn’t. In the book of Job, chapter 1, verse 21, we find these words…
“We bring nothing at birth; we take nothing with us at death. The Lord alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the Lord!”
We cannot solely accept the good times that God gives, and reject the bad times that He allows our way. Those hard times build strength, endurance, character, faith, and mercy. They are just as important and needed as the good, easy, fun times.
From me, my family, and my business – I wish you a very Merry Christmas! I pray that you will be able to slow down, enjoy the season with those near to you, and remember those who have gone on as they impacted your life. God bless!