|Photo Credit: Darren Hester from morgueFile.com|
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. (Albert Einstein)
We all value different things and many of the things we value aren’t things at all. So, as we embark on this month of shopping frenzies, let us pause to remember what we value most and what we are actually preparing for. Our priest, Father Bentil, struck a chord with the congregation on Sunday as he encouraged us to focus on “how” we will await the birth of Christ during this Advent.
Father Bentil said that he actually ventured out on Thanksgiving evening as well as Black Friday. He commented that the hustling and bustling crowds brought him great joy. What?! I can honestly say that that isn’t the first thing that crowds might bring me. Frustration? Maybe. Joy? Not so much.
He said he was full of joy because while he waited in the long lines, he prayed. He prayed for the customer in front of him. He prayed for the customer…uh, custo-MERZ…behind him. He prayed for the cashiers who had been standing on their feet for hours. He prayed. We’ll never know who needed those prayers the most.
Personally, I loved the reminder. During this time of year, while we shop for those we love and help to provide for those in need, we shouldn’t forget to pray. It’s so easy to forget. There are endless celebrations, activities, pageants, and parties to attend and hours of shopping, cooking, and baking to be done. However, I’m certain that if we remember to pray, this season can be one of joy, peace, and hope.
I’ve heard that anxiety happens when we think we need to figure everything out. The great news is that we don’t. We cause ourselves much unnecessary fuss and fret when we think we need to be in control at all times. God has mentioned numerous times in the Bible to trust Him. Numerous. Like at least 150 times or so. Why, oh why then, do I need a daily reminder?!
I do know that God does a wonderful job at sharing amazing stories of inspiration through people. One of Jim Stovall’s tales is a great one to share about the love of a mother:
“There were two warring tribes in the
Andes - one that lived in the lowlands and the other high
in the mountains. The mountain people
invaded the lowlanders one day and as part of their plundering, they kidnapped
a baby of one of the lowlander families.
They took the infant with them back to the mountains.”
“The lowlanders didn't know how to climb the mountain. They didn't know any of the trails that the mountain people used. They didn't know where to find the mountain people or how to track them in the steep terrain.”
“Even so, they sent out their best party of fighting men to climb the mountain and bring the baby home. The men tried first one method of climbing and then another. They tried one trail and then another. After several days of effort, however, they had only climbed a couple of hundred feet. Feeling hopeless and helpless, the lowlander men decided the cause was lost, and they prepared to return to their village below.”
“As they were packing their gear for the descent, they saw the baby's mother walking toward them. They realized that she was coming down the mountain that they hadn't figured out how to climb. And then they saw that she had the baby strapped to her back. How could that be?”
“One man greeted her and said, ‘We couldn't climb this mountain. How did you do this when we, the strongest and most able men in the village, couldn't do it?’”
“She shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘It wasn't your baby.’”
Yes. What love can do! We should never underestimate its power. As a side note of equally incredible inspiration, the writer, Jim Stovall, has the challenge of total blindness. In addition to being a world renowned speaker and author, he is an International Humanitarian of the Year, a national Olympic weightlifting champion, the founder and president of the Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network, and a National Entrepreneur of the Year, just to name a few.
I have found that inspiration can come from anyone and anything. And, inspiration to do things differently can come when we least expect it. We just never know. A couple of instances for our family most recently involved a fall off a bar stool and a microwave oven breakdown.
After our youngest daughter took a bad fall off a kitchen bar stool this summer, our family decided it was time to use our family table. Before her fall, we used our kitchen table as a catch-all spot for random things. For meals, the kids would typically sit at the bar and we would serve them while we ate standing at the kitchen island. Terrible. We felt like waiters. It just worked at the time.
But since that scary day in June, we have thoroughly enjoyed family meal time at our kitchen table because I refuse to let them sit on bar stools. Most nights, the kids set the table. I put the food on the table and we all SIT. All of us. We pass the food around while we talk about our day. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! This never would have happened if it weren’t for the summer trip to the ER. Bittersweet. We never know what will prompt us to make a change…for the better.
On another note, over a month ago our microwave oven broke. Good riddance some say. OH NOOOO say others. The point is that we opted not to replace it right away. At first, I can’t tell you how many times I popped that door open out of habit to reheat something real quick. As time has gone by, it’s funny that I don’t even miss it. What has it taught our family? Patience. I’m serious. We have to wait just a bit longer and waiting is okay.
We also never know what one second can mean. One itty bitty tiny second. However, one second can make the impossible possible and I witnessed it firsthand while catching the tail-end of the Auburn vs. Alabama game this past weekend. One second. Don’t ever underestimate its value.
Finally, we never know when God will work that miracle and answer that prayer. After 11 million minutes of waiting (aka 21 years), a beautiful couple I know welcomed their sweet baby girl into this world. Congratulations to Joe and Karen and their miracle, Makayla! Did I mention that doctors told them there was a less than one percent chance they’d ever conceive? God doesn’t listen to statistics. Don’t ever underestimate God’s love.
Another thing not to underestimate is OUR ability to make a difference in someone’s life. We never know who might need our word of encouragement, our prayer, or our love…especially during this Christmas season. We just never know. Let’s sprinkle in these things during our December days.