The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Christmas Dilemma; Defeated!

A friend used to say, perhaps only half jokingly: "Life's a bitch, and then you die."  I say perhaps only half jokingly because within a year or two of his spouting what seemed to be a lighthearted quip, the 28 year old man, in the prime of his life, with a loving wife and two young sons, went out to the beach one night and shot himself.  Overwhelmed by life.  An impending lay off, rainy climate and light deprivation, chemical depression, car troubles, hang nails, sore feet, dirty dishes....whatever.

We all know the joys of life, but the hardships come more continually and in all shapes and sizes.  Tremendously difficult tragedies are rampant and if they are diluted down at all,  it is most often only by the medium mayhems, smaller sadnesses and ongoing obstacles of everyday, day-after-day, life.  If it weren't for the ability to find the bright side and see the glass half full once in a while; and without the near mental demand that we justify our troubles at least by listing hopes, we might all succumb to a night at the beach when the tide is lowest.

Now add the wonder and dread of the aging process to the mix and try not to despair because you will likely outlive your demented Grandparents by 20 or 30 years!  Of course we want to live as long a life as possible, but honestly, even in my 50's I have begun to recognize the inevitable crush of entropy upon my body, and am forced to imagine what its degrading influence will bring with more years.

To maintain a flicker of hope, try not to consider the race going on between our economy and the culture at large.  One is headed for the fiscal cliff (any current arrangement notwithstanding) and the other just might win, going over the moral cliff first, and never to regain what we then might call a high ground of rectitude, self-control and peace.

Even during the Christmas season, when smiles are expected and gifts are generously  given (if not prescribed); when commonly relished songs are beaten to death by planned delight, and white and silver and red and green should magically maneuver our moods, the reality of stress and poverty and disharmony triumphs, and we can only find solace in the lengthening of days.

I love the lengthening days, and have convinced myself that I can measure the nuanced difference by some sixth sense.  But my real comfort works equally well after the summer solstice when the days are shrinking.   This God-given comfort is one that overcomes culture's demands and personal shortfalls; one that holds me close through the hot and humid, the sneezy and rainy, the driving wind and rotten leaves, and even the depths of drifts and frozen finger mornings.  It is the simple birth of the Christmas Baby.

They can take away our manger scenes, and inhibit our "Merry Christmas" greetings all they want.  Friends may fail and brothers may die and joints will creak and groan.  Organs waver after so many years and even our minds may sink into a mire of forgotten recollections, but that baby, that Jesus Christ the Savior did come to us and in a form to which we can all relate.  He does not speak to us as through a vapid speech which may or may not have any truthful intent behind it.  Nor as a teacher, does He feed us facts and figures merely to be tested.  And not even as a dreamed of lover who may never really connect across the divide.

Jesus came to you.  And to you He can relate.  He came as a human being so that you could know, that He would know, what you already know  (That life's a bitch, and then you die.):  But knowing that He understands our plight, we might also believe in His Prescription!   The Good News (the Gospel) is that we can live our lives out despite all the disparaging and discouraging truths we are terribly familiar with, and rejoice in being reconciled to God through the Son!  Though our bodies are literally ravaged by time, we can choose to live renewed and forever with Him!  While our circumstances conspire to steal our happiness, His joy is made complete within, and can not be hindered!  He came, purposefully, that you "might live an abundant life"!

Many people suffer the most during the Christmas season because expectations are driven so high by outsiders, and delivered upon with such reality, by those who are the closest.  Jesus Christ came in the most humble of circumstances, but gave Himself for sinners, the most deserving of piles of coal, and seeks to deliver each of us into the wonder and beauty and glory of an eternal life in God's presence where we will be given imperishable bodies and where there will be nothing to cry about ever again!

My friend's line was understandable as far as he knew then, but a better summation of truth might be more like this: "Life is hard; God is good!"  Let your circumstances rattle and roar.  Let your body wither and die if it will.  But repent today of your own recognized sin and give your heart and life to Jesus Christ for His safekeeping and His good plans.

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  1. This is my favorite of ALL your posts EVER. Not only because my own sadness inspired you, but because there is nothing here I don't already know. It is easy to fall into darkness when you fight SAD every fall/winter of your life and being reminded of how uniquely special and blessed and loved as a child of God each of us is - I am forced to buck up a bit and bow my head. With a heavy heart I pray for peace of mind and strength of faith. I pray for mental strength and unwavering belief that I will be fine. I also pray for a very merry Christmas for all of us and my precious friend Mike.
    Thank you.

  2. Christmas time is tough for a lot of people. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

  3. Merry Christmas Mike. To you and your family, love and good tidings.

  4. "Let your circumstances rattle and roar." God is still good. Thanks for the reminder.
    Merry Christmas!


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