Reflections — January 2017
Opening the mail in January after the flurry of Christmas spending for gifts can be quite the shock! All those “sales” and “deals” can easily add up to an astounding amount of money. And cheap, reasonable, or expensive are all relative terms, proportional to available income. Sometimes reality hits hard; other times it’s so off the scale as to be laughable. On a photography jaunt recently, two of our sons experienced the latter as they drove a breathtakingly magnificent section of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. What was the source of their hilarity? Pebble Beach Golf Course! Boing!! Reality check: $495 per person! But you can’t book a tee time unless you are staying at the Pebble Beach Resort for a minimum of 2 nights.”Okay, how much?”, they asked. The resort starts at a mere $1000/night/person. So $2,495 gets you a round of golf at Pebble Beach! Next question: “Okay, what if it rains?” Answer:” Sorry, no rain checks”. So, stifling their laughter until outside, they settled for some nice photos of the area. As for golfing? Ah, that is destined to remain on their bucket lists forever.
As they gleefully related this tale to us a few days later, I was once again struck by the paradox of the miracle we were about to celebrate – the birth of Jesus (God with us, King of kings at birth) and the free gift of salvation. Free to us, but oh-so-costly to Him. God paid our debt for sin, all with no earthly price tag attached, no bill coming through the mail, but with His sinless life. A priceless gift to and for all mankind. The only question being, who will accept it? None of us can refuse His gift because of the cost to us for certainly we wouldn’t go into financial debt. Rather by accepting God’s gift, we are freed from the bondage of sin and ushered into His eternal Presence.
Jesus didn’t come amid a loud fanfare. Instead, His birth was proclaimed by an angel at night to shepherds tending their flocks of sheep on the hills overlooking Bethlehem. Theirs was not a position of honor to be sought within a family, but a lowly one usually designated for the youngest boys. For many, the event was unnoticed, and life went on as before. But in reality it was an event that changed history and lives forever. It still does. He comes in a quiet and personal way to each of us — either for the first time or to offer the opportunity for us to recommit our lives to Him. I love the verse in one carol that presents God’s gift this way —
“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.”
With our Christmas celebration now fading in our rearview mirrors, what attitude trails after us into this New Year? Apprehension? Joyful anticipation? Indifference? Uncertainty? Hopefulness? What are our reflections of the year just completed? May I submit it might appropriately be wondrous awe, thanksgiving, and gratitude for His unfailing faithfulness to us. In spite of circumstances, in spite of everything we have done or neglected, regardless of the state of the world, we have His promises to sustain us. One notable passage from Lam.3:22-23 assures us that, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
Rejoicing with you,