Tomorrow is officially the first day of the last month of the year. 2016 is rapidly drawing to a close. That means I’ll have to get used to writing 2017 on everything (including those rare checks that I write).
There has been so much tragedy lately, between the Gatlinburg wildfires and the tornadoes that have swept through parts of Tennessee and Alabama. It feels a bit like the apocalypse draweth nigh.
But December heralds the coming of Christmas, and with it the arrival of Emmanuel, the baby Prince of Peace born to be the Wonderful Counselor and Savior of us all.
Ever since the fall, nothing in creation has worked quite right. The Incarnation was the first step toward making it right and turning an upside down world right again.
I’m thankful for waking up this morning as usual. I’m thankful for my vintage Jeep that got me to my job this morning, for the clothes on my back and the food in my belly. I’m praying for all those families who lost everything in the wildfires and tornadoes. I’m praying especially for those families who lost loved ones.
Christmas is a time for generosity, and not just for family and friends. Perhaps God has stirred up your heart with compassion to help those in need who otherwise might not have much of a reason to celebrate this Christmas. One way is through DollywoodFoundation.org.
Not everyone may be able to give, but everyone can pray for these families. Everyone can hug their children and their parents a little tighter and breathe a prayer of gratitude and thanks for all they have.
On a lighter note, I started on my list of required holiday movie viewing, beginning with the original Christmas in Connecticut. That’s a classic that never gets old. I figured the world– or at least my world– needed a bit more levity on this last day in November.
“As long as your heart’s beatin’
There’s no bad days
You got something to believe in
There’s no bad days
As long as you’re dreamin’, reachin’, seekin’
Make no mistake
As long as you’re breathin’
There’s no bad days” (Django Walker/James Slater/Patrick Davis/Jeff Cook).
My old boss used to say, “Any day without a toe tag is a good day.”
My take on that is that any day you wake up is a day that you still have a purpose and a reason to be here.
Any day you open your eyes to the new morning is better for you than many who won’t get the chance to experience the new set of 24 hours.
Every single day you’re alive is a blessing.
To be sure, I do believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with Jesus.
I also believe that life isn’t something where you pass the time until you die. It’s something you get to live only once.
One of my favorite lines from the movie Gladiator goes something like this: what we do here and now echoes in eternity.”
Your small acts of love, your random acts of kindness, you’re showing up and not giving up on a daily basis causes a ripple effect that will be felt long beyond your earthly years.
So make it count.
Oh yeah, and remember to keep things in perspective. In my own life, I’ve found that most things aren’t worth getting upset over. You waste too much time and energy fretting about what you can’t control and what ends up being transitory.
You can’t control most of what happens to you. You can only control you and how you choose to respond to it, Better yet, you can choose to surrender to the God who not only controls it all, but works it all together for good– your good and His good.
That was for free.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan lately. As a sort of challenge to myself, I decided to listen to his albums in order starting from his eponymous debut in 1962. Currently, I’ve got his 1980 album Saved playing in my car.
It’s interesting to see how he evolved from a traditional folk singer into something much harder to define. He had his folk-rock era, his country era, his singer-songwriter era, and his gospel era. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. And I’m fairly certain at this point he’d rather not be pigeon-holed into any kind of genre or musical style.
I do like his Christian albums. Both the ones I listened to were recorded and produced in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which has a very rich musical history. I recommend the documentary about that town and its music.
I’m not going to speculate about whether those albums were a phase or he had a genuine conversion experience. Only he and God know that. I will go on record (pun intended) to say that he made some really great music during that time, in my humble opinion.
My Bob Dylan pilgrimage will end with the latest album of his that I own, his 2009 record, Together Through Life. I don’t have the last two he recorded.
What’s the point of all this? That I like Bob Dylan? That I’m a big musical nerd? That I have too much free time on my hands? Yes, yes, and yes.