Each year with our annual Christmas card, we send a recap of highlights from the past year. It started out as a newsletter of sorts but over the last couple of years morphed into more non-traditional outtakes that would fit on the back of a 5×7 card. A couple years ago it was an infograph relating some of our stats for the year (like how many miles we drove in a circle running kids to various activities and jobs). Last year it was screenshots of interesting text messages between the parents and teens in our house. But this year’s news from our place ended up a little deeper than usual.
As we tossed around what to share, we settled on the year’s automobile mishaps, of which there were three. In June, a semi kicked up a rock smashing the sunroof on one car. Then in July, there was a parking lot paint exchange with our minivan. And in mid-November, our youngest and I were hit by a drunk driver. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the car did not fare so well.
The set of circumstances surrounding this last incident brought on some pondering. We often hear people grumble that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost and how we need to “put Christ back in Christmas,” but it seems the grumblers stop at grumbling. In a world where many people have never known the true meaning of Christmas, let alone that it’s lost, or who this Christ is that is supposed to be in Christmas, it seems that just grumbling about it only alienates and divides. And, slapping a Bible verse on your Christmas card does nothing to help those who are lost see the real meaning. So, I opted to step out on a limb with my family and friends to be the very light I’m called to be with four truths about the meaning of Christmas. They got an edited version because it had to fit on a 5×7 card, but you get the whole enchilada.
1. Believer or unbeliever, saved or unsaved, drunk or sober, God cares about you. There are lots of people who don’t want to believe this and lots of people who don’t want you to believe this, but it’s true. God cares about every human being on this planet–even the people you don’t like, the people who are different from you, and, yes, you. God cares just as much about the drunk young man who hit us as He does about me. He cares about your homosexual co-worker. He cares about Muslims and atheists. This is a truth that is often distorted. Well-meaning people sometimes give the impression that God only cares about the people who believe in Him or who behave “correctly” or who have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ. But the fact of the matter is He does care about everyone.
2. Even crunched up parts that seem proportionally small can render an entire object useless. Most of our wrecked car is fine, but the part that isn’t fine means we can’t use it. Engine’s great. Transmission’s great. The majority of the body is great. However, a smashed rear quarter panel, no left rear brake light, no left rear turn signal, and lack of access to the fuel tank make it unsafe and soon out of gas. Similarly, even those tiny little sins (i.e. gossip) that don’t seem so bad compared to the big sins of others (i.e. murder) are a big problem when it comes to having a relationship with God. To God, sin is sin. All sin means a relationship with Him is out of the question unless somehow we can be made free of sin, even the tiny little sins.
3. Our car was diagnosed as unfixable by three body shops. There was just no way they could put it together, even just together enough to make it safe. And there is nothing you can do to fix all the crunched-up parts of your life on your own. You just get one sin under control and another one pops up to take its place. Stamp that one out and here comes another. Think you got them all? What about that juicy tidbit of “news” you shared with co-workers over lunch? Or that neighbor you complain about to anyone who will listen? The truth is, no matter how hard we try not to, we will always sin.
4. God will take the crunched-up parts of your life and make them new when you put your faith and trust in Jesus. We didn’t get a brand new Tesla (or F-150 or Jeep Wrangler as some family members wanted) to replace our 21-year-old Accord. But, our needs were met with a 19-year-old Civic that’s at least as good as the Accord despite having crank windows. You won’t be perfect. Life won’t be problem-free. But you will be able to have peace that something good will be accomplished through the crunching. And that is the ultimate blessing of Christmas!