Monday, December 22, 2008

A Blessed Christmas Memory

My favorite Christmas memory comes from 1982. My wife and I were a young married couple hoping for our first child. My bother and sister had recently graduated high school. Our dad suffered a massive heart attack early in December and nearly died. He was recovering from bypass surgery and was well enough to come home for a few hours on Christmas morning, so Mom and I brought him home from the hospital. On the way home Dad kept looking around at our old neighborhood as though seeing it for the first time.
Shortly after arriving home my grandmother came in to join us for breakfast (Dad's mother-in-law; his mother had recently passed away). Without a word my grandmother went over to my dad, hugged him and started crying, Dad joining her. When Dad composed himself he asked me to lead in giving thanks for the food since he didn't think he could make it through. Dad lived to see all three of his children married with families of their own. He lived to see all five of his grandchildren, two of them completely grown up.

My grandmother died in 1987. Dad passed away two years ago. I think back on that Christmas morning in 1982 and begin to realize how wonderful it will be when someday we have our grand reunion in Heaven. It really will be life from the dead. All thanks to our wonderful Lord, whose coming into the world we celebrate, and whose second coming we anticipate!

I submitted this Christmas memory in the comments section at Bible Geek Gone Wild on the first day of their 12 Days of Christmas contest. Many thanks to Shaun Tabatt for running this contest and to the publishers for making good books available.

Dad was 52 at the time this memory was made. I'm now 50 and beginning to feel the brevity of life (James 4:13-15). Things change, including our health and our fortunes. The one thing that does not change is the truth of Malachi 3:6 - "I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Jesus, whose advent we observe at Christmas, is "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8). And He has said to His trusting ones, "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19).

I look back on memories like this and thank God for these loved ones and miss them. But I rejoice because Jesus is still alive! Our Redeemer and our coming King! However pleasant are my memories of "Christmases long, long ago," I'm not disheartened about today. I feel anticipation because, for the believer in Christ and His sufficient atonement, the best is yet to come.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)