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Wednesday, December 09, 2009


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-As long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for stuff. I must be particularly absent-minded or something. Even as a kid I remember how often I’d be digging deep in my toy box. I don’t remember now anything I was so desperately searching for, but I do remember Mom saying, “You’ve got dozens of other toys. What in the world are you looking for?” My Dad would also likely chime in, “Son, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the last place you look.” That was his way of saying, “When you find it, you won’t have to look any further.” Not much help for a frantic 5 year old, is it?

I’m obviously much older now. I don’t have a toy box anymore. But it seems like I’m still looking for things. Many times they are ordinary everyday things (like keys). But as I was aimlessly wandering around a mall yesterday it occurred to me that I was looking for something. I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. The more I pondered it, the more I realized that I was looking for something far less tangible than your run-of-the-mill Christmas gift, but much more real.
Do you ever wonder why Christmas is such a nostalgic holiday? I know we all tend to exaggerate the past, making it better (“those were the good old days”) or worse (“I don’t ever want to go there again”) than it really was. Still, for me Christmases past have been, for the most part good. My memories of the holiday are positive. When my thoughts go there I’m reminded of peaceful times with the people I love. Cares were less. Stress was less. Joy was more. So I find myself digging through memories the way I used to dig through my toy box.


I do things to stir the embers by revisiting places where things were, at least in my recollections, better than today. I listen to Christmas music that I hope will bring back feelings of peace, security and contentment. I even eat Christmas ‘comfort’ foods in an effort to relive former days – days before people I love have gotten sick or died. Days before I knew or understood what a recession was and how devastating it is for people who’ve lost their jobs or their homes. I want to be where, or better, when, no one ever gave a second thought to calling a school musical event in December a “Christmas program.” I’d like to once again be naïve enough to believe that war isn’t necessary. I want to feel that reassuring sense that everybody in the whole world safe and sound and happy. But I never quite seem to find it and I end up standing in line behind Charlie Brown at Lucy’s psychiatry booth.


Thankfully, a light bulb came on this morning. As I was enjoying a private time of worship and singing a verse of one of my favorite Christmas carols I heard the whisper of God through my tears of frustration with all the sadness of the world. My Heavenly Father was saying to me, “Son, what you are looking for is My Kingdom.” That hunger I experience this time of year for everything to be right and peaceful and whole, for everyone to be well and everyone to be joyful and everyone to be together will only be fulfilled when the kingdoms of this world give way to the Kingdom of God with Jesus on the Throne. Our only hope is that, someday, He will make all the things that are wrong with this world right.

He started to set things straight by coming here in the flesh. He opened the door of His Kingdom to us at the cost of His very own life. He was the first to conquer the ultimate thief – death itself. And someday, He will once and forever establish His rule over His creation. When He does, shalom – real peace, joy, contentment, fulfillment – will reign. Until then, my heart will keep on looking for shalom for everyone I love. The Christ of Christmas is where you will find it. You won’t need to look any further.

[text from file received from Greg Wooten, Lincoln Church of the Nazarene]



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