What’s in those boxes?
Published 4:04 pm Friday, December 16, 2016
I remember it well. It was Christmas 1988 in Elberton, Georgia.
That year we had more boxes filled at Christmas at our house than we had ever had before or have ever had since. It was not that we had an abundance of resources and were buying gifts for everyone and his brother. In reality, most of the boxes were not filled with gifts, but with our earthly belongings. Two days after Christmas that year we were to move away from our hometown and relocate to Lakeland, Florida where I would spend the next four years studying and preparing myself to become a more effective minister. Even though Gale did not attend formal classes while we were there, she did earn what we call her PHT; maybe some of you ladies understand that that means she Put Husband Through college.
What an experience that four years was! There were times when I wanted to quit (and I am so thankful that I did not), but there were two key things that kept me going until I walked the graduation line: I knew that God had called me to His work, and Gale would not let me quit. I am not too smart, as some of you very well know, but I am plenty smart enough to know that it would be absolutely foolish to go against either one of those two reasons!
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That initial move was not the only memory attached to Christmas during the time I was in college. Those trips back home to visit family and friends during the holidays brought great excitement to us all, and a few challenges as well. I will not even try to recount what all went into getting those two girls into our small car with all the “necessities” that they deemed essential to being away from home for a few days. Can you imagine how many pairs of shoes they required for our trek north?
As I look back, some of what we faced looks humorous now, but it was far from funny at the time. And as I think more deeply and seriously, none of what we faced comes anywhere close to the hardships and costs that the One for Whom we minister endured as He came to earth 2000 years ago because of His great love for each of us. We left a simple, wood framed farmhouse to move to another town; He left the splendor of Heaven to come to a sin infested world. We moved away to obtain education and experience that we could use; He came to earth to obtain eternal life for others.
In the midst of the memories that we associate with Christmas, let us not fail to acknowledge the meaning of the season: the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The words written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ are just as alive and real today as they were then: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, New International Version).