What A Tremendous Inconvenience!

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, December 22, 2021

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One thing that adds to the stress during the Christmas season is putting off the task of gift buying until the big day is frighteningly close. I recall one year as we made plans to avoid this obstacle, Gale and I got up early on a Saturday morning and headed off for an “exciting” day of searching for the perfect Christmas gifts. As always, we encountered traffic and people, but thankfully neither was too bad.

Things seemed to go rather well shopping during the early morning while we were freshly rested and clear minded (at least as much as one can be during this chaotic time of the year). After walking up and down far too many store aisles for much longer than I had intended, we finally reached a stopping point. As we set out to pay for the last of our selections, we proudly went to the checkout counter and started to unload our wares. The cashier speedily scanned our items, gave me the total, and like usual, I pulled out the old trusted plastic card, swiped it, and waited for the card to be approved so we could head back to Georgia. Successful Christmas shopping had been achieved—kind of! Rather than the screen stating the expected approval, it gave me another line: Declined! Being absolutely certain that the card limit was nowhere near being maxed-out, I swiped the card again to see if it would respond positively. And once more it refused to allow me to complete my purchase. I abandoned my attempt to use the card and used another means of payment. All seemed to be well—at least in the short term.

When I got home, I contacted the credit card company to see why the card was declined. After a few questions to ascertain my identity, he gave me the answer: I had become a victim of fraud. It seems that someone had tried to make unauthorized charges on my card up near the Canadian border. Figuring out how that could have happened is beyond me; nevertheless, I am grateful that the company blocked the card from usage before more damage occurred. To make the fraudulent use of our card even more disgusting, the card belonged to the church and the items that I was trying to purchase were for the church children.

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Even though the credit card company representative that I spoke to assured me that I will not be financially responsible for any erroneous charges that were made, Christmas is still a horribly inconvenient time to have to deal with such foolishness.

As I reflect on my incident, I am reminded that Christmas has been filled with inconveniences that started with the very first one. Surely Christ’s coming to earth was tremendously inconvenient for Him. He chose to give up what He rightfully enjoyed in Heaven in the presence of His Heavenly Father to come to a sin-sick world, yet He was willing to fulfill His mission by coming to this earth to make eternal life available to all who will trust in Him.

In the events surrounding the birth of Christ recorded in Matthew 1, we find included among them these words: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us”” (verses 22-23, New International Version). As we celebrate, build memories, and participate in traditions, it is essential that we keep the focus on the true meaning of the celebration: God coming to earth in human form through Jesus Christ for the purpose of providing spiritual hope for all who will give their lives to Him. There were many inconveniences involved in His coming—for Himself and others—yet He did so because of His great love for us all. We can rejoice that He chose our spiritual salvation over His personal comfort.