It is a common activity at this time of year to take a moment, sit back and remember the year that has passed. We look back at the snapshots we have taken and relive the special moments. That has become a little easier with the technology we have today. We just have to reach for our phone to record the moments as they happen. What snapshot is the one that brings you the most joy this holiday season? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
A few weeks ago I had the honor of remembering Bill Balser, former local track and NASCAR photographer. We had met several years ago and as the time came for him to go home to the Lord he asked if I would speak at his funeral.
I thought of all the photos Bill had taken in his 89 years of life. I thought about all the other photographers I know and have known. How much the industry had changed over the years. The effort they made to record the significant moments in life. I thought about each time we look at one of their snapshots and relive that moment in time. How precious is the blessing of a memory.
Photographs and Memories was a song by the late Jim Croce. The first verse reminds us of what we leave behind;
“Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these
To remember you”
It also reminded of the Scripture verse;
Philippians 1:3, I thank my God every time I remember you.
As we enter the season of remembering I am moved with emotion as I look at the snapshots of the past. Christmas is a time to look back and remember. We identify those who had a significant part to play in our life. We decide to present them with a gift of thanks. We hope to convey, in some small way, the importance they have to us.
Joy comes to mind, a feeling in our soul that we are loved, we are not alone, that we have someone alongside to walk with us through this thing called life. Joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances; it is in spite of our circumstances.
I remember the many stories I have heard about people’s adventures. I don’t recall many of them taking place alone. They seem to always involve at least two people, most times more. You see Joy is a group activity. We experience Joy when we are connected with others, when we have someone to share life with.
One of the most important promises from God that we find in the Bible is that He says He will never leave us or forsake us.
Deuteronomy 31:6; So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Hebrews 13:5b; For God has said,
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”
True hope is placed in someone or something that has the power and authority to change things. That hope produces a condition in our soul we call joy. Joy is an inner peace that no matter what we will get through this, God is by our side and He will always be there.
I understand that is easy to say and much harder to put into practice. We feel alone and abandoned at times. This time of year can magnify that. I urge you not to isolate yourself. Let others in, share those photographs and memories.
Our story, the places we have been, the things we have experienced are unique to each of us. We don’t walk in other people’s shoes; we walk in ours. It can be difficult sometimes to understand what others are going through and dealing with. We don’t have to understand to be compassionate and gracious. As we reflect on the challenges we have faced our heart should be open to understand that others are facing challenges also.
I ask that we consider what this season might bring to someone else’s heart. This can be a very difficult time as we remember people and events of our past. Many times, when we start thinking through those losses it can overwhelm us and thoughts come to mind that are not good. As much as Christmas is a celebration for some it can be the most difficult time of the year, especially for those who are missing that special someone.
We all know people that may be having a hard time this holiday season, reach out to them, let them know you are thinking of them and you are there for them, and mean it. Make a special effort to keep in touch.
As we look back and remember, let that be a catalyst for us. Let it prompt us to make the effort to show someone how much they mean to us. Think through who may be forgotten or alone. Remember where we have been, commit to help someone else along the way. Commit to help people find the Hope, Joy and Peace this Christmas season.