And Unto Us, a Savior Is Born — Really!

Note: This post is not cheery.  It was either write the truth or not write at all.

Having a savior feels different than it used to.

The word “savior” just used to sound like any other word. Jesus our savior. Born in a manger. Sheep and donkeys came to mind.

nativity

I’ve known the reality of having a savior for a couple of years now, but perhaps never more than this Christmas.

My older son, my sweet boy who took off into the depths of LSD and never desired to fully resurface, well, a few days ago he changed his email address to an auto-forwarded message that sounds an awful lot like a suicide note. He’s somewhere in Guatemala. He was waiting for a cosmic change on the 21st. It was no joke to him. No one has heard from him.

Maybe my son is dead. I don’t know.

My younger son is getting inpatient treatment for a stigma-producing condition. It’s the kind of thing where people don’t send flowers, offer much support or even really want to talk to you much at all. We are in Shreveport this holiday season because that’s where the hospital is. Christmas will be the same as every other day this past week — getting into an overcrowded elevator and visiting him from 5:30 to 6:30.

It would be so easy to fall into the trap of self-pity. It would be easy to completely fall apart, actually.

But in one respect Christmas is not at all the same as any other day. It’s the day we celebrate that we have a savior. A SAVIOR.

This means the world to me, now that I know what it means.

My merciful savior stands between me and hopelessness. He grabs the demons of despair by their necks and casts them away from me. He is good he is love he is everything to me.

I tried to cover up my pain by shopping. However, the world’s solutions don’t work. I have maxed out my credit cards and now despise the mere sight of another sweater marked 50 percent off. The only cure for pain is turning to our savior. The pain doesn’t necessarily go away, but it sure as heck becomes easier to carry. Here’s why:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

He arrived!! They worshiped him! He saved us! He saved us.

My savior. I love you.

 

 

 

Jesus and The Little Red Hen

little red hen
A couple of days ago, I had a dream that brought to mind the story of The Little Red Hen.

Here’s the story. The Little Red Hen finds a wheat seed and sees that by planting it, she can have bread. She asks for help from her neighbors, the lazy and disinterested pig, cat and rat. This is fruitless, and she ends up planting the seed, harvesting the wheat, grinding the flour and baking the bread herself.

Say you encounter Jesus and begin planting seeds. You’ll soon find that not very many people are interested in planting seeds or doing anything else to to get the life, the bread, that Jesus offers.

On the other hand, there are plenty of folks who are just fine with going to church on Sunday and asking for prayer. There is not anything inherently wrong with this. But when a person lives their life la, la, la all the time without seeking the Lord, and wants their problems “fixed” by a prayer on Sunday, they are being lazy.

Jesus gives us His bread by grace. However, my experiences indicate that the bread is much more filling when we are respectful to its maker. When we seek to help him in the kitchen, so to speak.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his thought-provoking book The Cost of Discipleship, calls this sort of thing “cheap grace.”

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

To enjoy the bread that God has set before us, I believe we need to fully participate in bringing the Kingdom of God to our world. Here are a few examples:

    We can ask God to heal us from our sickness and then proceed to sit at home and focus on our problem while waiting for God to deliver us. Or…we can sing praises to God for everything wonderful in our life and do something to show the love of Christ to someone else who is suffering.

    We can ask God for help paying our bills, or we can focus on being God’s hands and feet for those who have less than us.

    We can beg God to take us out of our circumstances, or we can repent to God for the choices we made that led to those circumstances.

My experience has been that God really moves when we focus on His kingdom more than ourselves. When we participate in the baking of the bread, then we will likely reap the most benefit from eating it.