That *Other* Christmas Message

For most people, this is a special time of year filled with family and friends and parties and vacations and festivals and parades and fancy-wrapped packages. But not for all of us. For some folks this is, perhaps, the worst time of the year. It renews that overwhelming sense of isolation and sadness and depression, and it often serves to deepen those feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and despair. I ask all of you to keep whomever fits that description in your own life especially close in your thoughts and prayers as you move through your own joyous Holiday season.

This year there are people with no family to share the Holiday season; family that has either abandoned them or that they have chosen to abandon themselves. This year there are people huddled in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere, or perhaps in a dark alley far away from anyone they have ever known or loved. There are people, too, sitting in a dark room out there somewhere holding a pistol in their hand and thinking about their future and how much more of it they can bear to envision. And there are some who, having lost their jobs or their homes (or both), find themselves angry and bitter and resentful of a God or a Government or a peer or a loved one that could have helped make a difference in their lives that didn’t.

It is especially those who have turned their backs on God, or that have forgotten the face of Him, that I hold in my thoughts and prayers this holiday season. They should be helped to remember that it is ONLY God that has not abandoned them. To them I offer the picture above (found in a Google search) that originates in MySpace somewhere, and the words of Mary Stevenson that have comforted me throughout much of my own travails of the past 2 years.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.”

What we all need to remember at this time of year is what this holiday truly is intended to represent: God’s gift of his only son to mankind, that he might see the glory of God. It’s not about trees and sleighs and stringed popcorn, it’s not about Target and Macy’s and festivals of lights, and it’s certainly not about diamonds and baubles and ordering online. Christmas is a time of reverence and remembrance and showing goodwill toward men.

As Christ’s birthday passes and the new year celebration dawns, helping a loved one or a stranger or even an estranged or forgotten friend get through another day should be on the very top of the list of “resolutions” you will NOT break as you stride happily into the new year.

May God keep you and bless you, all the days of your life.