At Christmas time, I am often moved by the Nativity plays, the beautiful carols, and the glow of candles; but this year, there were other images that moved my heart. Over time, I have felt myself growing hard toward people and circumstances. I have prayed that God would soften my heart; and this Christmas season, He did.
Several incidents come to mind. At a volunteer dinner, a choir consisting of women recovering from addiction sang with great strength,
“I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I can’t tell you what’s in store. I don’t know a lot of things. I don’t have all the answers to the questions of my life, but I know in Whom I have believed. He knew who I was when He carried my cross. He knew that I would fail Him, but He took the loss. And he knows my name, every step that I take, every move that I make, every tear that I cry. He knows my name. When I’m overwhelmed by the pain and can’t see the light of day, I know I’ll be just fine; cause he knows my name.”
Another group from the same program performed interpretive movement to “Peace on Earth”. I felt my eyes prick as I thought, “What a beautiful sight to see these women healthy and lifting voices and hands to the Lord!”
Christmas day, I witnessed two believers shaking hands: one a doctor clothed in a dress shirt, and one a man who is unable to read and wearing flannel. As they gripped hands in mutual respect, the doctor remarked that the other man was one of his best helpers. My heart rejoiced at this display of friendship and equality within God’s kingdom.
The day after Christmas, I sat in the visiting room of a state prison. Men of various ages, background, and cultures spent a bit of time with loved ones. One man nestled a sleeping baby in his arms, one played a game with his two young daughters, several visited with older relatives, and the one which I sat beside shared with me his humor, his frustrations, and his hopelessness for the future. My heart was moved. He tells me there are two thousand men in that facility. That is just one prison, in one state, on one part of the globe. How God’s heart must long for His creatures!
Recently, written in a notebook, my husband came across a quote by Beth Clark. “I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world. They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at one; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.”
How about the church? Where are the Christians? I am challenging myself as well. Too many of us sit in our comfortable pews and homes when there are people who need us to risk ourselves to walk alongside them in their struggles. How about business owners offering employment to someone with a record? Could you offer to transport someone to work who has no driver’s license? Would you invite someone struggling with addiction to your home to play cards or for a meal or dessert? How about giving your phone number and being available to call when a way of escape is needed? We admire missionaries who travel to far off countries to areas of danger, and rightfully so, but I believe God is calling us to risk ourselves and our comfort right where we are. In so doing, may we share “Peace on Earth.”