Yesterday, after weeks of uncertainty, cancellations and more uncertainty...we finally met to take the family picture for our Christmas card.
Actually, I had just about decided not to take a picture this year, and just send a card like I used to do all the time...before photo cards became all the rage. But my girls, Holly, and our daughter-in-law, Morgan, convinced me to do it this year.
I'm so glad we did.
We missed two members of our "family" who couldn't make it for various reasons...but there were 8 of us, and we got some good shots.
I mean, as good as you can get with two brothers (Logan and Clark) who are constantly irritating/picking at/stirring up/poking at/cracking up each other.
Also, Logan brought his slingshot, and wanted to use it in the picture...and he's 24 years old. JUST SAYIN'.
Our choir program is next weekend. Every year, our worship pastor asks a person or couple or family...to share their story as part of our program. This year, it's a couple who lost their young daughter in a 4-wheeler accident a couple of years ago. She was 8 or 9 years old. So tragic.
Our worship pastor wanted to show us the un-cut version yesterday during choir practice, because it is really sad...and he wanted us to not be hit with it the very first time during our very first performance. It was heart-wrenching and heart-breaking...but it was also full of HOPE. Because as they told of their daughter, Madalyn, they pointed to Christ.
One thing they said over and over was that they had no regrets with Madalyn...and that they couldn't think of even one day with her that they'd want to ask to live over. They did make it very clear that they would have loved more time with her.
It would never be enough, tho...would it?
But no regrets.
Because Madalyn knew they loved her, and they knew Madalyn loved THEM. And more than that, Madalyn loved Jesus.
She had felt God's calling on her life just a few months before, and asked Jesus to come into her heart. She was baptized in our church. She had begun memorizing Bible verses as a part of the AWANA program. She had written those verses on note-cards, and they are posted all over their home.
Madalyn loved her home, her parents, her brother, her friends, her school, her church. And Madalyn loved Jesus.
Her mom said that she thought Madalyn was too young to make such a big decision...that she didn't really have the understanding that she thought Madalyn needed. But Madalyn was persistent, and her mom tells of Madalyn's insight, even in her childlike faith.
She was a light.
OH MY WORD.
This was RIGHT BEFORE I left choir practice early, because FAMILY PICTURE DAY.
Yes, I cried off all my make-up, and then my eyes were puffy. FOR THE PICTURE.
Y'all, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. You know that. You don't have to listen to the news for 5 minutes before you see that life can be cut short in a split-second.
No, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow, but we are guaranteed eternity. Where will you spend it?
A friend of Jim's once got in a conversation with a man who did not believe in God. The friend said to the man, "I'll give you a 10% chance that you're right, and there is no God. Hey, I'm a good person. I've lived a good life. I've been kind to old people and animals, and I've taken care of my family. I've given to the church and to poor people, and I always put coins in the red kettle at Christmastime. With your philosophy, I'm going somewhere good. But you give me even a 1% chance I'm right...that there IS a God...that there IS a Heaven, and none of my good works on earth are good enough to get me there. So before the beginning of time, God provided a way...He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for me. And for you, if you believe. If you choose not to, you will spend forever separated from God."
I feel like we have lost the urgency of the Gospel. Or maybe that's just me. We spend so much time, money, and effort to get people into our churches with programs and bells and whistles. And, hey...I'm not against many of those things, if they are gospel-based and the goal is to reach others. I'm just saying that we spend a lot of time preaching about how God meets us where we are...and He does...but we tend to forget that He doesn't want us to stay there. He is HOLY.
He doesn't come to us in order to stay at our level. He is perfect, sinless, and He loves us too much to leave us where we are. He lifts us up, and draws us to Himself.
Find a Bible, or look on-line, and start reading the book of John. If there is someone in your life that you believe is a Christian, ask them to point you to a pastor or a church. Christmas is not about little trees, sparkly lights and beautiful decorations. Those things are wonderful, but Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ...the perfect Son of God who came to die for our sins.
"For whosoever calls upon the name of the LORD will be saved." (Acts 2:21)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." (Titus 3:5)