Warren Wiersbe once said: “It isn’t the normal demands of life that
break us; it’s the painful surprises. We find ourselves fighting battles in a war we never declared, and carrying burdens for reasons we don’t understand.” Some of that may well be caused by the experience of “reaping what we sow” but often unpleasant
experiences happen to us even when we don’t break the rules. To those of us who can never find it in our hearts or minds to doubt the existence of God we are often forced to occupy one of at least two positions: either God is not as benevolent as we have often been taught He is, or, there is a lot more going on than we can even imagine. Small minds tend to occupy the first position. But
those possessed of a little more maturity (and humility) seem to drift toward the second.
The reason I say that is because the longer you live the more opportunity you have to reflect upon your past experiences. I must confess that I have often labeled as “bad” many experiences I later found to produce “good.” In other words, I should be a little more cautious in putting the “bad” label on my experiences. “Painful” maybe, “inconvenient” surely, but “bad,” I found, requires far more understanding than I ever seem to possess at the time.
Someone once said “You Christians are spineless creatures. Unwilling to argue with your God you thank Him for good and bad alike and accept either as if there were no distinction between the two.” How I wish that were more generally true! However, I think spineless is hardly the word to describe those who are willing to accept whatever God brings to them. In fact, one of the most tortured souls the Bible presents to us once said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). But it’s the last part of that accusation I find to be especially true. I can’t always know the distinction between “good” and “bad” because of the great promise God has given to all His children: “...in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). It is this fact that causes me to finally conclude that we should forget the labels and just be thankful we have a God who promised to lead us through every experience to the Ultimate Good of life.
A mother was heading up the stairs with a basket containing the last load of folded clothes, herding her three little ones in front of her for
bedtime. Her oldest child, who was then in kindergarten, picked that moment to begin one of those questions that seem to intrigue all children sooner or later. “Mommy,” she asked, “If it were the end of the world, and everyone was getting ready to die…” The mother stopped, shifted the basket on her hip, and said an ultra-quick prayer for wisdom to answer this question. “Yes?” the mother prodded her daughter. The little girl finished her theological inquiry: “If the end of the world came, would you still have to take your library books back?” That young lady didn’t want any unfinished business in her life.
But then, most of us have unfinished business in our lives. It is part of the human situation to put things off to a more convenient time. Whether it’s a book we have borrowed, a letter we ought to write, an unfinished job around the house or a broken relationship that needs mending—we are all good at procrastinating tasks, especially those which are unpleasant. It is the last of these I want to focus on here. Christmas is a great time of year to mend broken relationships. Why? Simply put, it is the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. If you want to give Him a present He really desires I suggest you look at your list of relationships. Nothing disturbs a parent more than knowing that two of his children are not getting along. Therefore, nothing will please Him more than knowing they have made peace with each other. Now let’s understand that this gift doesn’t come at discounted price. It will cost you a great deal—your pride mostly. But then, how many times do you get the opportunity to give a gift that is “Just right”—deeply desired and wonderfully appreciated? Make no mistake, you can’t improve on this gift.
So why not really splurge this year and give the very best to your Lord on His birthday. If there is someone in your family, among your fellow employees or on your block to whom you haven’t spoken because of some perceived or real problem, why not offer this person up to the Lord as a target for your gift of reconciliation. It’s truly a gift from the heart.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship