Thursday, December 22, 2011
I Can Still Hear the Bell
Charlie Brown: Isn’t there ANYONE who knows what Christmas is all about?????
Linus: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about……..lights, please……and there were shepherds, abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night. And the Angel of the Lord came upon them and said, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord’. And there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will toward men.’……That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
This has been quite a year. I have traveled all over the United States and Canada. It has been interesting to meet so many different people and see so many different places. I have enjoyed the experience but at the same time, I often get homesick. The “glamour” of travel is not always what it seems to be. Running through airports, driving on unfamiliar interstates in heavy traffic, constantly eating fast food and the list goes on. I have awakened numerous times in the early morning and forgotten where I was at for just a few minutes.
But you know what, overall it has really been a positive experience and I am honestly grateful to have the job. I have met some really nice people. I have met people from all walks of life from the CEO of the company to a guy working in a plant in Savage, Minnesota, to a guy who loads tires in Florida. Not only have I met these people, I feel like I have made some really good friends in the process.
I have traveled to some places that I have really liked. Salt Lake City is really nice. Port St. Lucie, Florida is also a really nice area. If I was not tied to family, friends, and church, I could live in Port St. Lucie. I have been to some really remote areas like Perth, Ontario and Edgefield, South Carolina. I asked a guy at the hotel in Edgefield if they had “wireless internet” service and I’m not sure if he had ever heard of the “internet” at all! But in all my travels, I really believe Dorothy was right, there is no place like home.
The last few years have put things in perspective for me more than they have ever been. It would probably surprise many of you that I have always been a person to pray a lot. But now, it’s more of a priority. Billy Graham has been an inspiration to me for many years and you can listen to hundreds of audio and video clips from archives on his website. http://www.billygraham.org He repeats several statements during his sermons that I take more to heart, like; “you have got to come to the cross” and “each one of us will stand ALONE before God and answer for our actions.” I am going to be honest, I have a lot of faith, but standing before God alone knowing that he knows everything I have ever even thought wrong is quite intimidating. He also is firm in stating that a person must acknowledge that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and he is the only reason we can be forgiven for our sins.
You know, God loves human beings more than people realize. We are held in higher regard than even angels. That is why he sent his son Jesus into the world, to save us from ourselves. I realize that we often do not understand God’s ways. I frequently find myself thinking about the life of Jesus. He was born under very unusual circumstances for that era and there are long periods during his life that we know almost nothing about. We know that he brought a message of forgiveness and peace. We also know that even though he was the Savior, he had a lot of anxiety during the last 24 hours of his life. As the Savior, he knew what he had to do, but he still struggled with what he knew was about to happen. Jesus said “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”, Luke 22:42. We should all take the time to stop, think, and reflect on the significance of the birth and life of Jesus.
Most of the people that know me are fully aware of how emotional I am. When I am sad, I am anguished. When I am happy, I am elated. When I am mad, do not get within 25 feet of me…..as a matter of fact, it’s probably best if I cannot visually see you even if you are not the cause of my anger. When I think about Christmas and the birth of Jesus, I am often simply overwhelmed and I don’t even know where it comes from. It’s a feeling of happiness and gratitude that I cannot explain.
I have a nephew who loves the movie the “Polar Express” and I have watched it several times. The premise of the movie is that the little boy does not really believe in Santa Claus but by the end of the movie he has a change of heart. For anyone that does not believe, they cannot hear Santa’s bells. But for everyone that does believe, they hear them perfectly clear. When he gets to the North Pole, Santa ends up picking him to receive the annual "first gift of Christmas". The little boy asks for one of the bells off the sleigh after he begins to actually hear them. The little boy loses the bell from a torn pocket but the next morning, Santa Claus has left him the bell as a Christmas present. The little boy and his sister can hear the bell, but his mother and father cannot. I often wonder if the movie has more meaning to it than the belief of Santa Claus. My favorite part of the movie is the last line…….
“At one time, most of my friends could here the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found at one Christmas she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I have grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”
As we celebrate another Christmas, I can honestly say that not only can I hear the bell, but it seems to get louder every year. For me, that has nothing to do with gifts, malls, and a red suit, but everything to do with family, friends, and a baby born in a manger in the town of Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and I hope you find a sense of peace and happiness throughout the holiday season! I hope you also enjoy fond memories of loved ones that have passed away and you are able to make memories of your own that will live on for many years to come. May you all be truly blessed during the Christmas season.