Places we can’t stay. . .

That’s a funny title, I know, but let me explain.
We have all experienced moments in our lives which we refer to as “Picture Perfect”.
We got that term from our last century or two when photography came into being, followed by movies that started to create moments that, in truth, rarely existed in real life.
Christmas time is pretty high on the list of those moments. Remember ‘White Christmas’ when the whole platoon of soldiers give up their own Christmases to come to the Inn in New Hampshire to let the General know he’s never been forgotten?
“We’ll follow the old man where ever he wants to go –
‘long as he wants to go, opposite to the foe
We’ll stay with the old man as long as he wants to stay
‘long as he stays away from the battle fray.
Because we love him – we love him
especially when he keeps us on the ball!
And we’ll tell the kiddies we answered duty’s call
with the grandest son of a soldier of them all!”
The feelings that rise within you when you experience that on the screen and imagine what that meant to the (fictional) General – it’s an amazing moment that makes you tear up every time.
I read this morning in the paper about an unforgettable Christmas memory for one guy who took his elderly parents to the Homestead here in Virginia back in the day when they were offering sleigh rides. After getting some help up into the sleigh, they sat back, covered with blankets against the cold, taking off with the jingle of bells on the horse and the smart outfit of the driver, only to have it begin to snow as though it was carefully orchestrated by some unseen force. He said it was akin to a Currier & Ives moment, (which most under 60 will have to look up . . . ask you phone what it is!)
I remember a painfully poignant moment when Dane and I took all 3 sons to DC and visited the museums. We were walking down the sidewalk, all 3 boys towering over us in height and mass . . .well maybe not mass, when I felt such a surge of emotion over the blessing of having such wonderful sons, kind and polite and handsome as all get out, (a southern term). I wanted to freeze that moment in time and bask in it – fall on my face on the sidewalk and thank God for his goodness to me. But I couldn’t stay in that moment, and I choked back the tears and kept walking. I realized that that type of moment was probably experienced by my mom with her 3 sons, and by my sister with her 3 sons . . .
There are certain parts of music that have brought me to those moments of such excruciating beauty that I want to weep for joy while wrapped in the sound. Tchaikovsky can do that to me, especially his “Pathetique” which is some of the most moving music you’ll ever hear. I’m not talking about pretty or pleasant moments here, I’m talking about painfully beautiful. Moments that reach down inside you and pull emotions out of you by force – emotions that you don’t want to reveal but you have no control over them and cannot stop them. Like a faucet opened up that you cannot shut off. I’m not talking about anger here, I’m talking about beauty and wonderfulness that are indescribable! Places you would long to stay at if you could, elevated plateaus of feelings from which you don’t wish to come down. If you think heaven might be boring – think about these moments happening endlessly, for that is what heaven will be like and more and these earthly moments are a small, meager taste of where you’re headed if you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior!!
And these places we can’t stay while here on earth? Will be our resting place in eternity. Wow and WOW! God is good!!!

Delivery of the perfect gift

I’ve seen a few Christmases in my time – not as many as my 94 year old mother, mind you, but . . . a few. But there has never been a perfect one. Great, yes. Good, sure. Terrible, kinda’ sorta’ – but never perfect.
Being in the delivery business myself, I’ve seen a lot of boxes destined to make someone’s Christmas special. I looked into the eyes of small children waiting at their mailboxes who take the box from me and ask, “What is it?” as though I had given it to them, personally, from me. (No, I don’t take credit for them! I say, “I don’t know! It has your name on it so I thought I should bring it here to you!)
Moreover, I see the debris left at the end of driveways afterwards which tells me they got that new TV, the new laptop, the new Big Wheel, the Barbie Dreamhouse . . .
And I wonder if any of them had a ‘perfect’ Christmas.
I think they had great, good, and not so good ones, because there is no such thing as perfect. Having loved ones around you who give you thoughtful gifts, pretty decorations, and warm friendship over a meal is as close as we may come to a perfect Christmas.
Yesterday was called ‘Panic Saturday’ in the news. Kids are on Christmas vacation as of Friday, (and you may notice I used the politically incorrect version of that school break), so all these days ahead are filled with the rushing sound of dings and receipt tapes, bells ringing outside every store, carols in the air and traffic. Oh, the traffic!!
Our oldest van has ‘issues’, so we needed to get it to my son’s shop for fixing. It won’t shift out of second gear. Do we pay someone to tow it past downtown Roanoke? Or do we drive it ourselves, on a Friday night, during Christmas traffic?? You guessed it!
I volunteered to drive it and have Dane follow me, because, well, I love the old van! Dane likes to beat on the dashboard when all the gauges quit and the left blinker won’t work. I ask it nicely and stroke the dashboard. It doesn’t work, but I want the van to know I have no malice and am willing to drive without gauges and a left blinker.
Why? Because perfect doesn’t exist, except once it did. . .
In a manger full of hay, on a cold winter’s night, with a 15 year old mother, and a Godly father to watch over them both. The creator of the universe taking on human flesh to experience life on our level, to live without sin, and then be sacrificed on a cross – His blood pouring out of His body for you and me.
This was the delivery of the Perfect Gift, and our gift-giving at Christmas is a symbol of God’s gift giving to us.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  1 John 3:
May your Christmas be full of God’s love – the perfect gift lavished on us now and forever.