Sunday, January 15, 2017
On January 4, 2005, the worst ice storm in decades hit Wichita. Over three quarters of an inch of ice coated the area, downing power lines and plunging more than 60,000 homes and businesses into darkness. The icy outdoors created a surreal fantasy world, with homes, grass, trees, streets, and mailboxes painted with a clear, icy glaze. Trees bent over, their limbs dragging the ground under their heavy loads. Many, unable to bear the load, snapped, littering roofs, yards, sidewalks, and streets with their crystal branches. By Saturday, the clouds cleared; nature’s ice castles sparkled brilliantly, their prisms of ice flinging crystal colors everywhere.
Saturday afternoon, I ventured outdoors to watch the sun glisten off the icy trees. Everything drooped under the weight of the ice—according to newscasters the ice was four times the weight of the trees it covered. The trees bent so far from the tips of their branches brushed the snow-covered ground. I stood in the middle of the back yard and gazed at the trees surrounding me. The sun, striking the ice-covered branches, turned my back-yard world brilliant, but what really struck me were all the new sounds. As I stood there, a whole chorus sang. The main melody: the constant drip, drip, drip of water falling from thousands of icicles. All around me I heard this constant dripping as the sun melted the ice. With the breeze, the click and clack of ice-covered branches brushing each other added to the tune. Plop! I turned and looked at trembling tree branches, freed from their weight of ice. Every few seconds I heard another plop as chunks of ice tumbled to the ground. Occasionally a loud crash resounded as a large ice fragment hit the branch below and tumbled from branch to branch before landing on the softer earth. Before long, I noticed the lower branches of the mulberry tree no longer touching the ground. I wondered how long it would take before all the ice melted from the trees, and the branches, freed from their burden, would once more reach heavenward.
How often do our souls become ice-coated? We are burdened and bent over, not with the weight of ice, but with the weight of our guilt and our sins. Heavy with guilt, we labor to lift our arms heavenward. Some, unable to bear this burden, snap and break. Others merely look down, unable to praise God. Fortunately, we can eliminate the burdens weighing us down. Like the sun shining on the ice-laden trees, God’s grace frees us from our burdens. When in repentance we sincerely beg God’s son to shine his light of forgiveness, the hard shell of guilt begins to crack. Before long, the hard shells of ice coating our souls melt. Soon we can raise our arms heavenward, look up and praise our maker.
Father, thank you for melting away my heavy burden of guilt.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
The holiday season is over. The tree is down, the lights are off, and the decorations are packed. But what do we do with the Christ child? Do we wrap him in bubble wrap and place him in storage until next December? If we do, then we’ve missed the whole point of Christmas.
Every child needs nourishment, love, and care, including the Christ child living within us. If He only resides on a shelf in the storage closet, He has no opportunity to grow in our lives. If He only appears on Sunday morning, we miss the daily joy of His presence. Caring for our Christ child involves dedicated effort, but the results are worth the time and energy.
Jesus has promised us peace, abundant life, and spiritual riches beyond measure. If we desire these gifts, we must unroll the bubble wrap and place Christ in a prominent place in our hearts all twelve months of the year.
Father, thank you for the gift of the Christ child. May we keep Him close in our hearts all year.