celebrations, Christmas, dingy manger, Expectations, family, Hanukkuh, heart, LONELINESS, meaning, The HEART of the matter
Have you been to the mall? Are your decorations up? Is your baking done? Did you get your Christmas or Hanukkah cards in the mail? How about all the Christmas music on the radio, tired of it yet?
Last weekend, I had to pick up some chocolate chips for my daughter. She wanted to make some fudge. I stopped at the local grocery store and went directly to the baking aisle. It was overwhelming!(I am NOT one who enjoys the art of shopping, so I am typically in and out within 15 minutes!) I headed down the baking aisle in search of a deal on what I needed, spotted the rascals on the left side of the aisle, and stopped momentarily to compare prices. A young woman with long black hair, glasses, and a scowl was behind me where I stopped. She looked up at me (and I’m only 5’5″) and with a sardonic smile said, “Yes, every time you stop, the whole line has to stop!”
Well, I only had stopped ONCE! I kind of looked at her in disbelief, and looked back at the shelf. When she didn’t make a move to circumvent me, I looked back at her and she told me to, “get f*’d!” I smiled politely and said, “same to you!”
As I finished my shopping, though, my heart broke for her and the thousands like her who have been totally engulfed by our secular, anti-goodness society. It’s not a new thing entirely, but godlessness has become a national past time in OUR time. Only recently, has it become socially acceptable to be selfish, self-centered, and unkind. It is everywhere now. (Watch drivers, if you have any doubt.) People think only of themselves, their agenda, their needs and are completely unaware? or unconcerned? with others. “Screw you, lady! You’re in MY way!”
The HEART of the matter is GOD! Many people, whether alone or surrounded by others, are lonely these days. GOD, whomever we understand Him to be, is relegated to a distant dark corner of our pseudo-sophisticated society only to be recognized as the source of some fringe lunatic. Darkness increases while those holding the Light remain well shielded by the protective bushel of their/our choosing, and we wonder why society is breaking down.
The attitude of this one young woman shocked my heart, my reality. She was not suffering from some obvious disease, but her heart is sick. Mine, too, struggles under the burden of perfection portrayed by TV and movies … the perfect Christmas or Hanukkah celebrations always show scores of happy family members laughing and embracing one another with tables loaded with boundless delicacies and truckloads of gifts for everyone. I don’t live there, do you?
- But the dingy manger? THAT I can relate to! Our best laid plans sometimes fail.
- The hardship of that journey to Bethlehem with Mary at 9 months pregnant? THAT I can relate to … discomfort is a big part of life!
- Alone in a strange town, crowds of people milling around yet, no place just for them. THAT I can relate to! Surprises! Unexpected journeys!
- Supplies insufficient to the task at hand? THAT I can relate to! Making due with what’s on hand is daily life, and it requires faith in something or Someone bigger than me!
At this point in time, the media (TV, movies, magazines, etc) sets our expectations for more than any of us realize. Today’s movies always show the various holidays … PERFECT! There may be a bit of a struggle to get there, but perfection always arrives. LIFE is not perfect! It is not orderly or predictable. It is our daily challenge to make order out of chaos.
The moral of this story? When the Christmas lights are unplugged, when the Hanukkah gifts are given, when the parties are over and the cookies are eaten, what is left? GOD is there in my emptiness and unfulfilled expectations, and He’s there in yours, too! He didn’t stay in that dingy manger, and the oil has still never run dry! He is not necessarily where we expect Him to be, that’s all. Though we have tried for centuries to package Him and present Him all neat and tidy, He reminds us constantly that HE is GOD, and we are not!
Look for HIM as you celebrate … or as you endure whatever hardships and discomfort is your life. He is THERE!