What’s YOUR Story?

I am meeting new people on this snowbirding journey. Protocol for meeting new folks covers the same questions: “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do for a living ?” (Or “What did you do for a living?” – because most of the people I am meeting here are retired.) And, “Which rig is yours?”

There is the usual mental sizing up and rating system: Yankee vs. Confederate, blue collar vs. white collar, urban vs. country dweller, those who camp in huge, shiny RVs vs. those who stay in older ones. We tend to classify and pigeon-hole people as if we are scientists cataloguing plants. We smile and nod, are polite and play nicely, but it takes time and shared interests for real friendships to develop, so conversations rarely move on to deeper things.

People shut down if the conversation moves into tricky waters, such as religion or politics, too quickly. You look for little clues and nudge the conversation, all the while being ready to side-step the issue if they are not receptive to the nudge. So, we stay in the shallow end of the pool and tread water instead of diving in an risk alienating a potential friendship. Everybody has a story, but you have to build that bridge of trust before they are willing to share it with you. Trust takes time to develop. As a result, most stories remain untold.

Last night I had a dream about heaven. I was with a huge crowd of people, from all ethnic backgrounds. We were all wearing whatever “street clothes” our culture or time period deemed, and we were all roughly the same age. There were no children, teens, or elderly in the group. Folks were clad in jeans and tee shirts, prairie dresses, sari’s, buckskin, and silks – a wide assortment of humanity, both men and women,

There were people standing shoulder to shoulder as far as the eye could see in any direction. We were all facing the same direction, and way off in the distance was an elevated platform with some people seated in fancy chairs. We in the crowd were all very excited to be there, and were eagerly sharing our stories with those standing near us.

These stories were intense, personal, and vivid. There was no reference to names, places, jobs, or titles.. Instead, the question was, “How did you meet Him? How did you meet Jesus?” And, we talked, sharing our stories in heartfelt, deep details, giving glory to Jesus for His grace to touch our lives. There were no half-hearted, “Well, my grandma used to take me to Sunday School, so I decided I was a Christian” or “Well, my family all went forward on an altar call when I was little and I didn’t want to stay in my pew, so I guess I’m a Christian.” stories. These stories were rich, detailed, personal, and powerful.

There was no classifying, no judging, no rating system of who had the “best” story. Instead, there was a deep excitement, acceptance, and overwhelming joy. Everyone had a story and everyone was intensely interested in hearing what anyone had to say.

One day we will all be called to tell our story, to give a personal account for our life. What will your story be?

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Sacrifice

My daughter’s apartment was robbed just before the Thanksgiving weekend. She lives alone in a small apartment on the “edge of the ghetto” in Virginia Beach and interrupted the robbers when she returned home from a party. Fortunately she was not injured and her little dog was found locked in the bathroom. However, most of her electronics are missing as well as her handgun. One of her laptops is gone, and one was staged by the door. Her cashbox was untouched but her piggy bank is gone. The apartment was in shambles and the burglars got away.

After the police left, she spent the night with friends and left town the next day for the Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan. She has decided that her apartment is in too dangerous of a neighborhood for her to live at without feeling afraid, and is making other living arrangements. Friends have offered to allow her to stay with them but these offers do not extend to her little dog, as many live in pet-free apartments.

We offered to keep her dog here until she moves. He will most likely be with us until Christmas. This is not without sacrifice on our part. Her dog is a friendly little beast that thinks cats are created for his chasing pleasure. Our cats do not agree. He needs twice daily medication and we must be aware of his bathroom needs before we leave the house. The dog is not accustomed to sleeping in a room by himself. We are not used to sharing our bedroom with animals. The dog wakes up barking and growling at the sound of the furnace turning on, the water softer recycling, or the sump pump running. None of us got much sleep last night!

We chose to sacrifice our comfort, sleep and time because we love our daughter. She has a need we are able to provide it.

And yet, our sacrifice of keeping the dog is of no consequence in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Because of his great love for us, he chose to take on human flesh, walk the earth, suffer and die for our sins. We have a need for a savior and his death was the only way to provide it.

As we approach the Christmas Season, keep in mind that the sweet baby in the manger was born to sacrifice himself for us. Because of his great love for us, we have a hope and a future if we believe on him and accept his sacrifice as full payment for our sins. Don’t allow the glitter and tinsel cover the fact that without the cross, Christmas would be a broken promise.

Christmas lights in November

Today is November 4. It was dark and frosty as I drove to the office this morning and the sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon. Amidst the piles of leaves and rotting Jack-o-lanterns, I passed a house that was already decorated for Christmas.

Every tree and bush around the house was lit with multicolor twinkle lights. And when I saw them, it made me smile.

Some people say that decorating so early is “pushing the season” and rail against the department stores playing holiday music in November. Holiday music in November makes me smile, too.

I’m not talking about adopting the whole “Santa is coming to town” commercialism mentality, but am referring instead to the phenomenon of “God coming to Earth!” Those little twinkle lights remind me that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to rescue sinful man from spiritual darkness.

The promise of Jesus the Messiah began in the garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned. Later, Abraham was told that through his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed. God in human flesh, Jesus Christ the Messiah, is a descendant of Abraham. He lived a sinless life and paid the total payment for all of our sins. Anyone who trusts in Him will be saved from damnation.

Those twinkle lights remind me that Jesus is the light of the world. The music at the mall reminds me of the angels singing in celebration of His birth. When I see Christmas lights and hear Christmas music, I smile and thank God for His incredible sacrifice for me. Christmas is THE gift to celebrate: God Himself coming to earth to rescue sinful man.