The Biggest Gift is Not Under the Tree

An old man is shocked when an angel tells him he and his post-menopausal wife will soon have a baby. A young girl is puzzled when she learns that in her virginity she will soon conceive and bear a son.  A young man’s fears are relieved when he finds his fiancée is not pregnant by another man. A selfish king’s plans to kill the Messiah are thwarted, and instead, the king himself is dead a short while later. 

All the twists and turns in the Christmas story labyrinth come together in an unforgettable, unrivaled, unimaginable display of God’s intervening hand in the affairs of men . . . all to give us a Savior. 

This is the true gift of Christmas.

Accept it.

Amen and amen!

 

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  ~ Luke 2:11

 

 

The Real Miracle Worker

I am fit to be tied every single time I hear someone steal God’s glory by claiming that God no longer performs miracles today. These perpetrators usually have seven letters after their name, and usually begin their arguments with something like, “Now that the Scriptures are complete . . . “

 

 

My response to that rationale is, “Huh?”

 

 

Putting God back into faith

It really is possible to be too educated for our own good, and to relegate God and his work to a box shallow enough to fit our own intellectual grasp. The sun does not have to stand still, nor does anyone have  to trod through a sea on dry land in order for us to claim an event as “inexplicable by the laws of nature [and therefore] held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.” (TheFreeDictionary.com)

In fact, just today my sisters-in-law and I were listening to a favorite song of ours as sung by three different performers.  All three singers delivered a technically perfect rendition of the song, but as we compared the three on a more subjective scale, only the first made our toes curl in our shoes. She was clearly the only one who had suffered hurt long enough and deeply enough to put an authentic spin on a dramatic song expressing the heart and rage of a recently-jilted woman. Her raw, guttural interpretation of the lyrics was so real that we vicariously experienced her pain, nearly to the point of tears. Were it not for the depth of her pain, the melody would not have been so sweet, nor would it have ministered to me regarding my own similar hurts. 

 

Thanksgiving  

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving I bend my knees to the real miracle worker–to the one who caused me to see my beauty when man called me ugly, to turn on the light when I preferred to live in darkness, to stand before strangers and declare my abusive past, to stand before well-known ones and do the same, and to call good that which has nearly destroyed me because I knew God would ultimately use it to compose a sweet melody that would fall from my lips. 

 

 

These melodies are the miracles of my life and the handprints of God all over me. 

 

 

And he plays them over and over and over again. 

 

Has the Lord redeemed you? Speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. ~ Psalm 107:2

 

Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf! How puff pastry and caviar can get your praise on

This past week our family hosted three little boys from Ecuador who were invited to the United States to attend a soccer camp, and to play in the Hershey Cup soccer tournament. My love for South American culture was rekindled as we talked to late hours into the night, and served up as much rice and eggs as we could stand. Continue reading “Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf! How puff pastry and caviar can get your praise on”

The Right Response: Christian teens embrace peer struggling with homosexuality

She shared her place on stage with a gleaming spotlight and flinched when a close-up of her face on a giant, tri-fold screen invaded her space even more.  She cleared her throat, then shifted from her left foot to her right. She fumbled her words, then took the plunge–like a polliwog swimmer on her first attempt at diving. Continue reading “The Right Response: Christian teens embrace peer struggling with homosexuality”

When You Don’t Get a Do-Over

Ever been afraid of telling it like it is? Afraid of telling the truth because the would-be recipient was older, more experienced, or somehow more important than you were? After all, the old are supposed to lead the young, right? I know the feeling well, but one day God squeezed it out of me in a way that left his fingerprints all over me.

My grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt Williams, a once robust man with a hearty, contagious laugh, lay stretched out in comatose silence in his hospital bed, wearing an oversized, steel blue gown that hung sloppily off his skeletal torso.  The dingy, white piping around the top was tied loosely in a bow that rested on his emaciated neck.  He was unrecognizable, and that devastated me.

The Memory

I was used to seeing Grandpop sitting comfortably in a recliner, telling funny stories about working with his brothers down at the Brooklyn waterfront.  I wanted to hear him laugh again.  I wanted him to bet me that he could eat a whole loaf of Profile bread in one sitting, without once forgetting to dunk a piece in his coffee.  I wanted to see him sharpen his razor on a leather barber’s strap and slick his hair back with Vitalis. I wanted him to give me a roll of peppermint lifesavers and send me on my way, as he did every single time I saw him.  I wanted to make him another Father’s Day card, as I had done every year since first grade when my father died.

The Reality

But there he lay in a coma, so lifeless.  I felt unprepared for all this.  I had been away at college, and so had not seen his gradual decline in weight and wellness.  Someone told me that I should talk to him, because there was a good chance that he could hear me, even if he didn’t respond.  Well, I thought, I certainly have plenty I could tell him.  I had gotten saved—that he already knew, but the spiritual growth, the sense of being led to the mission field—that would have truly excited him.  But the words never came.  I could have gone step-by-step through the gospel, making sure he had no doubts as to how to be saved, but I said nothing.  I sat there paralyzed in silence, apparently overcome by this “imposter” in my grandfather’s bed, with tubes in his nose, and an IV in his arm.

The Cowardice

Instead of saying something, I glanced out the window, and I saw one of my cousins entering the hospital.  I didn’t want to be seen as emotionally overcome as I was, so I decided it was time for me to leave.  About a week later, when I was back at school, my mother called to say that Grandpop had passed away.  My heart broke into a thousand pieces.  Somehow, I thought God would have spared him.  I wasn’t even sure if I felt that way because I truly wanted him well, or because I truly wanted another shot at doing what I was too cowardly to do when I saw him in person.

 

What was wrong with me?  This was my Grandpop.  I held the keys to the kingdom, and was too afraid to open my mouth—And what was I afraid of?  Of being laughed at?  Of someone else overhearing me?  Of losing my position as “favorite” granddaughter because I dared to wonder whether or not he really did know Christ as Savior?  Would God really let him go to hell because I didn’t have the courage to speak up?  So then, I was preparing to go to the ends of the earth to share the gospel, but not to Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn?  Not to my own grandfather?

 

At his funeral, I realized I had never allowed myself to consider Grandpop’s eventual death.  How I wished I could relive that day in the hospital, that I could open my mouth and say what the redeemed of the Lord say.  I needed the Lord to comfort my heart in a way that no one else could at that time.  I asked Him for a verse, and He gave me Mark 7:37:  “…He does all things well…”  I’ve always taken that to mean:  Even when Sherry disappoints, even when Sherry fails miserably,…He does all things well.