Anticipating the Coming Year

The turn of the year is always a time of anticipation. Will 2015 bring new adventures, good experiences, and lasting memories, or will it disappoint us with trouble, increasing world tension, and a sense of loss?

 

Many of us would like to own a crystal ball, if such a thing existed, to gaze into the next twelve months and prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead. Some will lose friends we cherish—to a move, a disagreement, or a death. Not fun to think about.

Others will change careers, and face the trials which accompany a life event of this proportion. Still more will be confronted with illness and make adjustments to their routine as they strive to improve their health.

For those of us who place our faith and trust in a living God, we know He holds the future. He is the one who will walk with us through the next twelve months, carrying us where we need to be lifted up, comforting us when we need assurance.

I John 5:14 (KJV) tells us: “And this is the confidence we have in him, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

He will whisper encouragement as we face disappointments, open windows when doors close, and remind us, that in His love, we can embrace the future with confidence, knowing He has gone before us and planned our paths.

Psalm 32:8 (NKJV) says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) reads: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I wish you all the joys of this bright new year. May your dreams be fulfilled and your days overflow with promise. Happy New Year.

 

Are You Ready for Christmas?

I posed that question to the bank teller this week.

 She groaned, shook her head, and broke into a dismayed laugh. “I think I’ll fake the flu. I can take my time after the holiday and do it right.”

Not the answer I expected.

I asked the checker at the grocery store.

 “I’m ready for it to be over.” She frowned as she spoke. “We usually get lots of extra hours, but this year the management is cutting our shifts and having fewer of us work at a time. We’re busier than usual with less to show for it.”

Listening to these two, I found my heart heavy. I understood the commercial emphasis our culture has embedded in this sacred event. God’s precious gift of his son has become forgotten in the profit-based rush of the holiday. One would think Jesus was an inconvenience to be tolerated.

Suppose his mother Mary had said to the angel, “You have to be kidding. Me, a mother? I’m just a kid myself.”

Or his earthly father Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed, had said, “The kid’s not mine. Mary is on her own. I’ll not raise someone else’s child.”

Can you hear the shepherds scoffing when the angels announced the holy birth? “What’s another baby in Bethlehem? The town’s full of them already.”

Our culture has lost sight of the miracle that happened more than two thousand years ago in a small stable tucked into a hill. A baby was born to a virgin, announced by a herald of angels to shepherds on a hillside, and tracked by kings from the East following a lone star to the Christ child. He was sought by the wicked Herod and carried to safety in Egypt. He grew up a teacher, a man followed for His knowledge of God, and whose truthful appraisal of the synagogue leaders led to His death on a cross, the most humiliating way to be killed in the Roman world.

The world was not ready for Christmas, but it came anyway.  Centuries later, we still try to fit Christmas into our schedule. Instead, we should be finding our place in God’s timetable, molding ourselves into His plan for mankind, and proclaiming to a dying world the saving grace of a Savior, who was born Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11 (NIV) “Today in the city of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah the Lord.”

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off By A Number

The first phone call arrived late summer. The caller was looking for Joyce. I assured her no one by that name lived here and she’d misdialed. Giving it no further thought, I hung up.

Until it happened again the next day. This time the caller was male, and he linked a business name with Joyce. I droned out my spiel. No business or person by that name existed at this number.

By the end of the week, and after half a dozen similar incidents, I sensed something amiss. When the phone rang again, I asked the caller to read me the number they’d dialed and verified the name of the business they sought. The number was mine. I searched online to see if I could find a business website address.

Bingo.

The business was based in Harrisburg, Virginia. Four time zones away. Other side of the continent. The area code was different by one number. Problem solved.

Or not.

As the calls kept coming, I cheerfully explained to the callers they had misdialed and gave them the new number. Certain that everyone would soon find their way to Joyce in Virginia, I made a note of the phone number and busied myself with other tasks.

For about three weeks, the calls stopped. I’d almost forgotten about the incident until I answered another wrong number. I explained the problem one more time, frantically searching for the note so I wouldn’t give out misinformation. The calls were sporadic after that, one here, another there. I continued my cheerful explanation, wondering if the mix-up would ever end.

This week, I had just stepped into the shower when the phone rang. I dripped my way to the phone only to be met by a voice seeking Joyce.

Enough.

I pulled up her website and toggled the contact button. I explained the situation and asked if she would please check her invoices and sales receipts—anything that might have a misprint on it—and get it changed. She e-mailed me back with a sincere apology and promised to find the error. Still amazed at how long one misprinted number could linger, I hoped  the problem had been solved.

Galatians 5:14 says, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

The phone’s ringing. Dare I answer it?