Friday, December 7, 2007

This year for Christmas, let's stop focusing on others

That sounds pretty weird, huh? That was just to get your attention, of course, but read on, and trust me that there's a good point to this.

I’ll tell you a true Christmas story, from a few years ago. I only tell it because many of you have had a similar story, so you can relate. I was working in the Physical Therapy department of a middle-sized hospital. We decided to do an outreach project one Christmas. It was easy to find someone who needed help, as you might expect, since we were at a hospital already. On the hospital campus was a small inpatient drug and alcohol rehab for women with young children. Women could check into this clinic and their children could stay with them while they were being treated. The kids were safe, fed, and cared for, but the moms were not able to get presents for their children. So we decided to “adopt” the center, providing toys and clothes for the little ones, and even a stocking of personal care items for the moms. We would throw a little party for them one day close to Christmas and just generally show them a good time.

The day of the party arrived. As many of us as could be spared went over bearing sacks of gifts, cookies, veggies and dip, and every good thing. We sang carols with the kids and everything was great. Until the gifts were passed out, that is. Our well-organized event that could have been so picturesque, turned sour quickly. One child got something better than someone’s child…another child did not get the specific thing on his list. Now mind you, the complaining was all from the mothers. I do not think any of the children were upset, at least during the party while we were there. However, it’s a well-known fact that almost anything delightful can be spoiled for a child when the adults start whining themselves. We all walked back a little older and more jaded than before.

I’m just telling that story as an example of how you can have this great idea in your head of something wonderful that you are going to do. People are going to be happy and grateful, their lives will improve, and the littlest one will stand up and say, “God bless us, every one!” That’s not always the case, and though sometimes you will get that scenario, I would bet that much of the time, something similar to the above happens.

So that’s why I say to get the focus off of others this Christmas. Put you focus on Christ and what He has done. Please do something for someone else if at all possible. But do it “…as working for the Lord.” Out of your gratitude for God’s gift of Jesus, and not merely for the joy on the face of another human. Keep your eyes open for those special moments, where you see the light in a child’s eye, or a tear on an older person’s cheek. Those are rich blessings, but they are a “fringe benefit” of service.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)


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