“Myron probably didn’t expect to be running from the police a few days before Christmas because he knocked his girlfriend’s tooth out,” I explained to my son as we drove to his school this morning.
The local radio station explained how Myron (not his real name) had gotten into an argument with his live-in girlfriend over the location of his phone. The argument turned physical. At one point he was on top of her, his hands over her nose and mouth to keep her from calling for help but also preventing her from beathing. Then, he connected with his knee to her face.
His last words to the girlfriend, the deejay said, was that he wasn’t going back to prison. And with that, Myron was on the run.
I told my son that at one point, like him, Myron was a kid excited about the last day of school before Christmas break. He couldn’t wait to see his presents in a few days. He was probably going to be getting together with family and friends, eat way too many sweets, and play with new toys.
Then somewhere, a bad decision set things into motion. That led to another bad decision, then another.
“That doesn’t mean a bad decision automatically places you in the position he’s in today,” I told my son. If that were the case, we’d all be doomed. Of course, I added, not every bad decision is equal.
But this worked up to a singular point I wanted to make, a point I feel encapsulates Christmas.
“For all Myron has done to put him in this place today,” I explained, “he’s not beyond grace. He’s not beyond recognizing where he’s at in life and making the decision to stop. Even now, he can decide to not be the guy running from police three days before Christmas.”
In other words, he could repent. Simple acts of decision to go one way instead of the other lead us all to somewhere.
The Christmas season is about celebrating the arrival of God in the flesh. At this time of year, we’re also taking stock of how we did the previous 12 months. Did we meet our goals? Are we the person we declared we were going to become? Put them together and we realize how far we fall short.
But when thinking on the grace and forgiveness offered through Christ, Christmas also shows our worth. The first group receiving the announcement in Bethlehem weren’t royalty or nobility; they were shepherds, common folk. And the announcement wasn’t quiet. It contained “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.”
Throughout his ministry Jesus would continue in showing people their worth. Their lives were more than they thought, no matter where they were at that point. However, the road back always started with that word: repent.
I think most of us recognize our need for repentance. It could be the teenager who needs to stay clear of a bad relationship, the dad needing to spend more time with his kids, or the mom comparing herself with social media statuses. The problem is we either don’t want to voice it or have no idea what to do even if we did.
The Oxford Dictionary has deemed “toxic” as its 2018 Word of the Year. It makes sense if you think about it. I lost count on the number of times I heard or read the phrases “We’ve never been so divided” or “I’ve never seen it this bad.” Sin is that way – toxic. It pollutes and poisons. It takes you to places and situations you never thought you’d go.
I tend to be a positive guy. Not naïve, but positive. There’s a difference. Naïve lends you to want to see the rose-lens-glasses good in everyone, no matter what. Positive helps you look for the better road ahead, but understand the reality in front of you.
At Christmas we celebrate an event that made earthly kings tremble and split time itself. That baby grew up. Many saw Him as a prophet, teacher, and healer. The Son of God was all of those, but much more.
His message still resonates and will continue to do so for those wanting to repent this Christmas season. It still brings a message of forgiveness … and hope.
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