Get it? You see what I did right there? You know, like Christmas Past, Present, and Future? Okay, okay, cheesy, I know. But that's what's been filling my mind these last couple days. I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of the Christmas Carol, promising to keep the spirit of Christmas Past, Present, and Future in his heart.
I hope everyone had a joyous, restful, and blessed Christmas season. I love to think back to my holidays, especially those special moments, like sitting with my whole family to exchange gifts. None of us spent a lot of money on each other, but we made sure we found gifts that would mean something. Nothing makes me happier than being able to give to my parents or my siblings.
This year, I was also fortunate enough to get to attend a concert of one of my favorite gospel groups, Triumphant Quartet. (I know, I know...I have a lot of favorites.) The whole second half was dedicated to Christmas songs. What a sweet way to kick off the season!
I think one of my favorite memories for this year will be the women's Christmas banquet. Getting to spend the evening with all those wonderful ladies was very special.
I was also able, with my mother, sisters, and a couple friends, to volunteer as a Salvation Army bell-ringer for a couple hours one Saturday. It was cold, rainy, and windy, but I felt a sense of great satisfaction being able to give, even just a little, to the community.
My family always enjoys picking children's wish lists of the Christmas tree at Walmart for "Christmas for Kids." It's just as much fun shopping for those little strangers, even knowing I'll never get to see their reactions, as it is buying for my family and friends.
Yes, thinking back to my Christmas, I can say it was a good one. And it always makes me feel a little sad when it's over. I guess that's one reason I am always in such a hurry to take it down. A Christmas tree just looks forlorn and abandoned when Christmas is done. But, even though it's all over, I still have those memories. And I am still able to carry the meaning of Christmas with me throughout the year.
We celebrate Jesus' birth at Christmastime. We sing songs about that holy night. We put out nativity scenes and put on Christmas programs. We read the Bible story and remember what its all about. But the really cool part, it doesn't end at midnight on December 25th. Rather, that story goes on. Jesus was born, yes, but He stayed here. He dwelled among the people. He healed the sick, revived the dead, and calmed the storms. He performed miracles and proved Himself to be divine. Then, He was arrested, tortured, and tried. And finally, He was executed, crucified like a common thief.
But the story still doesn't end there! He rose again, ministered to His disciples, and ascended to Heaven. And now, thousands of years later, He still lives and dwells among the people. He saves us, restores us, heals us, comforts us, and loves us. His presence is still felt, when the last Christmas wreath is packed away and the last scrap of wrapping paper discarded. Jesus is still here. He didn't leave when His birthday ended. He's ready to finish out the year and go into the next one with us.
Which brings me to thinking about the future. 2016. What does it hold? What lessons, trials, and hardships will we face? What victories, testimonies, and joys will we see?
I always start thinking ahead, about what I hope to accomplish. I dream big and make lots of wishes. I write lists out of things I want to do, books I want to read, places I want to go, and people I want to see. But I am also very aware that the year will not be without its tears, too. And I pray that I will be ready for them when they come, that I won't despair or lose faith, no matter what the future holds. Because I know, regardless of what comes, my Lord will be with me. Because He always is, no matter what time of year it is.
I hope everyone will take the opportunity to be like Ebenezer Scrooge. (No, not like he was at the beginning of the movie!) I hope we will all be able to look back at what we can learn from Christmases past. Or even beyond Christmastime. And I hope that we will feel His presence in our present. And, finally, I pray that our future will be blessed with peace, strength, and love. And that we will always know the security of being...
In His Grip!
P.S. Feel free to comment below and share your favorite Christmas memories or hopes for 2016!
"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." --Hebrews 13:8