At Christmas time, I usually watch one of the many film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Almost everyone would recognize this iconic story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy and ill-tempered businessman who had no joy in his life.  He lived an empty existence without meaning and without any impact on those around him.  He simply lived to eat, sleep, and make more money, money that he didn’t even use in his miserly lifestyle.  He is subsequently visited by three spirits of Christmas who convict him of his selfishness by showing how negatively others think of him, showing what little impact his life has on others, and by showing the desperate plight of others that he could have helped in his life.  In spite of all his hardness and his past sins, Scrooge finds redemption at the triumphant end of the story, admitting his fault and changing his life to become a compassionate servant to all those around him.  I think that one of the reasons that this story touches us so deeply is that there is a little bit of Scrooge in all of us.  We recognize our own tendency to sometimes be selfish and uncaring of the plight of those around us.  But we also identify with the redemptive message that there is always hope for a change in our lives, and that change should come now, not later.

It is too easy to be like Scrooge in our lives, though.  We can get so busy at being busy, just filling our lives with activity and entertainment so that we do not ever really stop to think about who we are, whether we are living right, and about all the blessings that we have which we need to thank God for.  We need these moments of pause and rest in our lives at least periodically, preferably daily, to stop and examine our lives.  Or we just need to stop for a moment and look around us, recognizing the blessings there, and taking a moment to think of the Amazing, Limitlessly Loving God that put those blessings there and maybe thank Him.  One of my favorite poems, which I will share with you, shows one of those moments as the persona in the poem stops his busy life, walking out of a lecture, and just looks up at the stars, the handiwork of our Awesome Creator, admiring the beauty in silent awe. 

When I Heard the Learned Astronomer
By Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
   and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
   much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.


Whitman perfectly captures the weariness of explanations and experts, similar to the busy activity of people, places, possessions, images, and words that we fill our lives with.  Sometimes like the persona in the poem, we just need to stop and enjoy the moment.  Smell the roses.  Drink in the beauty of the sunset.  And think of our Loving Creator.  I believe that, in these moments, we are answering the call of Psalm 46:10, to “be still and know that I am God.”  Sometimes, we just need to stop striving, struggling, and trying to control or explain for a short moment.  Sometimes we need to stop for a short space in the middle of the chaos, just stand in perfect stillness and silence, wherever we might find it, and bask in the awe and glory of all that our Awesome, Glorious Lord has Created and the many blessings He has given us.  In those moments, we should realize His Infinitely Tremendous Love stamped on all of this glorious Creation and on the blessings of our lives.  I have even found those moments many times in my life in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected times as He Faithfully Blessed me with His Peace That Passes All Understanding. 

I have found it during a training exercise at three in the morning as everyone else was sleeping, and I gazed up in silent awe from the ground that I was lying on at the huge, beautiful moon hanging in the sky, feeling His Indescribable Peace.  I have found it in a foreign country, feeling lonely, at the end of a weary day of military training, looking at the sky and the beauty of the nature around me as the day faded away, gathering courage and strength from His Limitless Love that stays with me no matter where on the earth or in the universe that I may go.  I have gathered courage and strength in these moments from knowing how Great My God Is, the Same God Who Is with me every step of my life in all matters big and small.  I can never outrun or outstretch the reach of my Awesome, Boundless God.  I have felt Him at all weary, fearful, and lonely times of my life as I have served my country in some seemingly godforsaken places, giving my very best effort, every last drop of devotion, even driving myself to exhaustion sometimes in my desire to do what was right in completing my mission and taking care of the soldiers under my care, America’s sons and daughters.  I have felt Him in the some of the most far-flung, desperate places on this planet, joying in the beauty, mystery, and comfort of the boundless desert landscapes, the rich forests, or even on occasion a full moon in a strange landscape half-way across the planet from the place of my birth, giving me one last comfort as I closed my eyes for desperately needed rest.   

We are all part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  This is what makes life worthwhile, transcendent, knowing that there is something more, greater than this humble earth.  We are just pilgrims on a weary road to our real home in Heaven where someday we will find glories that will make all the struggles and pains worthwhile.

I pray that you will find a moment in your day to stop and take in the beauty of the various places where you live and to remember how much your Creator loves you.

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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