Christmas Roadtrips

Today we will put away the Christmas decor for another fifteen weeks or so, and wrap up our new family tradition of celebrating Christmas In July.  So I’ve been reflecting on my Christmas memories as a child this morning.  Many of those revolve around road trips to visit extended family. And when I say road trip, I mean road trip.  Like 1,000-1,500 miles and 20-24 hours of drive time.

We would leave on a Sunday night after church.  We would load everything in the station wagon and hit the road.  No seatbelt laws meant we kids could sleep on the slats Dad had specially made to fit in the back of the land yacht. Luggage underneath the slats and sleeping bags on top of the slats.

Mom would drive first because she was a night owl.  She would get us to daybreak, and then Dad… having gotten some sleep while she drove… would take the helm and keep us rolling.

We stopped only to fuel up and eat.  While we rode, we played all the classic road trip games… because there were no cell phones… or on-board wifi… or iPads… or built-in video players which could play videos or your gaming system.  No, we read… and slept… and talked… and drove each other nuts.

But you know what? I never thought twice about what direction to drive… or how much money we would need to take with us… or whether gas stations were open on Sundays or not… or whether we would get where we were supposed to be going.  Mom and Dad said, “Get in the car. We’re going to see your grandparents.”  And I did.  I just got in that station wagon, and let them do all the planning and driving.  They took care of when to stop and when to go.  They determined which roads were best for us.  They made sure we had all we needed to make the trip as easy as possible.  I just got in and trusted them.

Oh, that I would always treat God the same way.  That I would simply get in the car of life which He is driving, and let Him take care of all the details.  Sometimes I do better than most.  Other times, I’m like a 6-year old trying to tell his parents what time to leave, which road to take, how fast to drive, what time to stop or go.  I know, it doesn’t make any sense.

In those moments, my Heavenly Father is kind and gracious enough to say from Matthew 11:30, “Keep company with Me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  In other words, “Allen, let me take care of the details… You just get in and ride along with me. I’ll get you where you need to be, when you need to be there.”

I’m glad He’s driving.  And since He is, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to climb in the back, rest, and have fun looking at the billboards and license plates we pass.

And oh yeah, just one more time this year… Merry Christmas in July!

Enough For Today

Anne Shirley Cuthbert says to her friend Diana in Anne of Green Gables, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes yet?”  I don’t recall Diana’s response, but I know mine… YES!!!

As a self-professed guy who tries to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, do right, be good, help others, love and lead his family, and the list goes on… I for one am glad that each day the sun rises and brings with it a fresh start. Sure, I cannot undo my yesterdays, but I can choose each day to point myself in the right direction and start heading that way.

I resonate with Anne’s question. It reminds me of what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in the Old Testament book of Lamentations… “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  In other words, no matter how yesterday went, the Lord loves us and gives us hope for today.  He helps us today.  He forgives and forgets.

That’s good news for imperfect people like me… and maybe you.  It’s good news for those who have a lot of days left. And it’s good news for those who have less days ahead of them than they do behind them. Each day is full of new, abundant mercies for all of us.

Bad day at work yesterday? Get up, get dressed and go back to the office or store or worksite because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Feeling like a lousy parent for mishandling a situation with your kids at a crucial moment?  Roll out of bed, give them a hug, and ask their forgiveness because He has new mercies for today!

Broken relationships that have remained shattered for years due to your negligence? Make the call, send the text, get together for coffee because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Failed a test at school?  Load your backpack, grab your books and get there before the bell rings again because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Staring at a bad prognosis and a lifetime of regrets?  Pick up the Bible, bow your head, ask for forgiveness and a fresh start because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

His love never quits… He won’t run out of mercies… He is always there.  So lift your chin… and lift your heart… and lift your hands… because He has new mercies for you today!

For You

Note:  This post is best read with the song “You Are For Me” by Kari Jobe playing in the background.  Just sayin’…

When an eagle soars in the sky, the wind which blows against it is not there to keep it down… It is there for the eagle’s benefit… to lift it higher and help it conserve strength.

Likewise, God’s strong stand against sin is not there to beat us down… It is there for our benefit… to protect us and draw us closer to Him.

I love Selwyn Hughes’ quote which reads, “You are not AGAINST ME for my sin, but FOR ME against my sin.” (Emphasis mine) I love it because it truly captures God’s heart regarding us and sin.  God isn’t mad at us because we have violated His commands and committed crimes against Him and others.  His heart breaks because of it.  In fact, it breaks enough that He even sent His Son to take our punishment for those very crimes we commit against Him.

So, when we set our perspective from the vantage point that God is for us, not against us… it transforms our view of Him.  And in that moment, we sense His heart full of love for us.  And in sensing that love, we are drawn to Him.

I can tell you this… I don’t avoid sin as much as possible simply because I’m trying to make up for what I’ve done wrong or to try to earn my way into God’s heart.  I live wholeheartedly- albeit imperfectly in my efforts- for God because He loves me… and I love Him… and I want to honor what He has done for me in taking my punishment for me and instead adopting me into His family.

It’s time to quit living in fear.  It’s time to stop living in regret… and guilt… and shame.  And it’s time to begin living in light of the fact that God really is FOR YOU.

And I’ll stop typing right here so that you can really focus on the words of the song. (Please tell me you found it and hit play already.)

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