Monday, December 9, 2013

The Plan of Christmas - An Advent Story, Part 2

This year, it is once again my privilege to participate in the celebration of the Advent Season with my church family. 
The story that God has prompted me to write will appear here on my blog each Monday this month. I am thrilled to be able to share these writings with you and I hope the story will be a blessing to you and your families this season. The story is a continuing tale that will take us through a contemporary application of the biblical truth of Christmas. Click HERE for a link to Part 1 of the story.
This week, much of our area was snowed/iced in, so our Pastor and part of our Worship team filmed a video of music and the sermon. This way, all who wished to, could still participate in worship even though they couldn't get out to their church home. You can access the YouTube video by clicking on the graphic below. The music worship portion is approximately 18 minutes, the sermon portion begins right after.

With a Courageous Heart, 

The car engine whined a loud protest as the driver pushed the little coupe towards 80 miles an hour. Much like the man behind the wheel, the small car wasn’t prepared to handle what was being demanded of it at the moment. 
This long, flat stretch of Hwy 33 had beckoned to Izzy as a way of escaping the nagging thoughts and painful memories that had come creeping back into his mind this past week. The gentle rise and fall of the road, along fences marking off one farm from the next had always been soothing to him as he had traveled its familiar miles.

But not today.

Today, he was running. 
Running from memories and beliefs and feelings that he thought he had long since buried. Buried with his Mom and Dad 10 years ago when they died in the fire that had destroyed their home. 
And his faith in God.  

His right hand struck the steering wheel with force as he let out a noise that would have frightened anyone. 
“Just go away God! 
Leave. Me. Alone! 
I don’t want You anymore!” Izzy shouted at the empty space around him. 
“Why now? Why are You bugging me now?"

And without warning, hot tears began to flood his eyes until he couldn’t see the road in front of him. Izzy slowed his car and pulled over to the side of the road where he allowed a release of emotion that he hadn’t let go of in years.

As he sat there, all the old feelings of pain and anger and fear and abandonment he remembered felt as fresh to him at 26 as it had at 16. 
But he wasn’t 16 anymore and he’d gotten past all that. 
Had made his own life in his own way and on his own terms. 
And he certainly hadn’t needed God to do any of it for him. 
God didn’t save his parents from that fire, why should he believe that He would do anything for him now? 

It drove him nuts to see his sister Mary Beth and her husband Joe so hung up on this Jesus stuff. Living life “for Him” they said. 
Living out His “purpose” for them. 
As if God could really have a purpose and a plan for each of them. 
God, Jesus, whatever. He didn’t need any of it.

But if that were really true, then why couldn’t he shake off the chance encounter with that preacher last Friday?

It had all started with that column his editor had assigned him to write – What are the signs of Christmas? 
His day had started out pretty rough, that was true, but as he got into the assignment and the festive atmosphere in the mall with all the holiday shoppers, he found himself really enjoying the answers he was getting to that question. Lots of excitement about gifts and toys and holiday meals and decorations and snow. Talk of Santa and Rudolph and elves and cookies to be baked was making people smile, and they were all loving the bargains! 
Yes, there’d been lots of signs of Christmas to be found.

And then he’d met Juan.
Juan had been sitting on a bench outside of Graftons Department Store, looking pretty out of place among all the urban shoppers with his dreadlocks, blue button down shirt and ripped denim jeans. But what really caught Izzy’s attention was the worn leather book that Juan had been reading. 
A Bible. 
And from the looks of it, he needed a new one. 
His was falling apart.

Intrigued, Izzy had sat down beside him and introduced himself. And when he asked him the question, “What are the signs of Christmas to you?”,  he wasn’t prepared for what came next. 
Not prepared at all.

Juan had given him a quizzical look, taking his measure; judging his very character it seemed with his piercing eyes. It was like he could see the dark empty spot in Izzy’s heart and it made him uneasy. No one ever looked at him like that anymore, straight into his soul.   
Not since his Mom.

As Juan answered the question, all of Izzy’s memories of what he’d known about Jesus, God, the church had come racing back to him. And it was so strange, it was as if he were hearing it for the very first time. 

Juan spoke of God’s plan for the world – to save it by sending and then sacrificing His only Son.  
He talked of a God who knew all things before they were completed. 
A God who had written the story, knowing the end from the beginning
And the simple truth that Jesus was the story.

That part had grabbed Izzy’s frozen heart and even now, wouldn’t let go. 
Like Isaiah in the Bible, he too was a writer. 
He understood a story. 
He understood that when you write, you never know the whole story when you start, you make it up as you go along. 

But Juan talked of a God who knew the whole story before He even sat down to write it. 
He knew that the people he’d created to love would turn against Him and need a way to come back to Him. 
The God Juan spoke of knew that he’d have to send His son Jesus to Earth to die to make that possible. 
He wrote the story and then He made it happen. 
And according to Juan, it was because He loved them so much that he couldn’t bear to see them, us, live in the guilt that all our mistakes, bad decisions and arrogant pride had created.

And as much as Izzy wanted to believe it was true, he couldn’t allow himself to believe that a God who loved like that, was the same God who had let his parents die. 
If God had known the whole story from the beginning, then He’d known that was going to happen. 
And he hated Him for it. 
It had been 10 long years since Izzy had believed in God. 
10 years of silence until last Friday. 
“So now what?” He heard his own voice echo off the windshield.
“What is it God? What am I supposed to believe? 

What do I do with you now?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome and encourage comments provided they are respectful to all. A respectful exchange of ideas is a good thing so tell me what's on your heart too. I reserve the right to not publish any comment containing crude or offensive language or any that would disparage someone else.