Dear Friends and Family:
It was a glorious day in October. The sun and clouds fought fiercely until finally the sun claimed victory A few leaves lazily sauntered down from the Japanese maple to kiss the soggy ground. I felt bored out of my skull as I sat behind my laptop dreaming up ways to get out of my counseling paperwork. A match? Or accidentally-on-purpose spilling my peppermint mocha on my notes? Flushing them down the toilet? Hmmm…I doubted that would do much besides cause two major glitches, one in the marriage and another in the pipes.
Visions of disappearing paperwork danced in my head, when all through the house rang a clatter. Or rather a tool box clunked onto the porch. “YES!” I said to myself. Someone was at the door, so I could procrastinate a little longer. It was George’s
electrician friend, Steve, who came to fix some electrical problems (not his real name). This meant we could finally plug in the stove of our newly remodeled kitchen. I’d never been that excited to meet anyone in my life. I was about to get the stove out of my living room, get the fridge out of the entryway, and become the next Martha Stewart. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little. At least I would be able to bake my reindeer cookies for Christmas. The only downside I could see was having no more excuses to go out to dinner. But I had faith I could always come up with more.
I went back to my laptop and stared into my screensaver, daydreaming. For some reason, visions of lupus problems spun in my head. A few weeks earlier I had been in the ER because I could barely breathe. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. It turned out to be inflammation of the chest wall, called costochondritis. Dad told me it’s probably from shopping at Costco too much! I wondered how the lupus stuff would end, and how long I would have days when I felt so tired it seemed as though I’d been drugged. (Incidentally, I bought the coolest turkey roaster you’ve ever seen at Costco a few weeks ago! I may never use it, but don’t you think it’s important to have a turkey roaster?! It means I’m an adult.)
A few minutes later I went back into the kitchen and chatted with Steve. He said that his wife was terminally ill with a rare disease. They have three little girls, and she home schools because it gives her something positive to focus on. I barely held the tears back as Steve shared. After our chat, I went back to my laptop and got online. After floating around to different web sites, I landed at my bank and decided to check my balance to procrastinate just a tad longer. I noticed that Steve had cashed the check we had written him the previous day for fixing another electrical issue. I realized that this could be coincidental, or that he had an unbearable financial hardship due to his wife’s medical bills. Deep in my heart I felt it was the latter.
After praying for wisdom, I went back out and was amazed to find Steve singing worship songs to God as he performed electrical wizardry. I gently said I wanted to ask him a question, but emphasized that he certainly did not have to answer if he felt uncomfortable. He gave me permission, so I asked if his wife’s medical bills had been overwhelming. He said they had lost their house because the medication cost more than $100,000 per year. I could almost hear my heart shatter. I told him I would be praying for him and his family. Suddenly the $1,700 I ran up for my problem in the ER felt like nothing.
George finally got back from what he calls his second home—Home Depot. (Those little kitchens in there are not really samples—it’s where he does his cooking.) I called him back into the computer room and told him the scoop. We agreed to pay Steve much more than what he had asked for. He tried to refuse but we insisted. He left, and I will never be the same.
I plopped into the computer chair, pulled up my counseling program, and tackled my paperwork like the Energizer bunny with a venti triple latte buzz. Perspective ran through my blood and thankfulness engulfed my soul. Compared to Steve’s wife, my costochondritis and fatigue drenched in a batter of fear was nothing. Most days I feel very healthy, and am able to have a pretty normal life. I thanked God for the blessings in my life It took more than thirty years to learn that life is not about being “successful,” but that it’s about relationships—with God and with people. This is a time of year to reflect on how God gave up his power and humbled himself to be born as a baby so that we can have abundant life. No, not a perfect life here on earth, but deep peace and joy although the world continues to spin out of control. Hope saturates the air like giant snowflakes dancing in a blizzard. If we grasp at hope it is ours forever — the greatest gift ever given.
People have sought hope in money, achievements, and power. Some have searched for peace in wine, women, and song. I always forget if King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, or vice versa. Either way, it was a whole heap of hormones. King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, without God, all is emptiness. And you can’t say he didn’t look for it elsewhere since he was the richest and wisest man who had ever lived.
We pray that you will have a Christmas filled with hope and the peace that can’t come from money, power, or success, but only from the hope of the Christ child who died so that you could have abundant life. May your heart be filled with thanksgiving and peace as you share your blessings with others.