There is always someone who promises good news, whether it's a TV preacher promising a miracle or junk mail that promises a big sweepstakes win. Our politicians have just promised that the government will live within its means even if they have to borrow to do it. Most of us could use some good news. Our 403B has become a 101F. After months of negative economic growth, we are broke. I admit I'm discouraged. I finally had a check clear and the bank bounced. I invested in paper towels and revolving doors. I was wiped out before I could turn around. If the economy doesn't improve, I'll have to eat that fruitcake I received for Christmas last year instead of giving it to a deacon. The Christmas carol we all sing this year may be I Heard the Bills on Christmas Day.
Even good news from an official agency may let you down. Woodrow and Lois Nelson discovered that their lottery ticket matched the winning numbers. They were ecstatic over winning $12 million. Unfortunately, the officials discovered a mistake in the numbers, and they really didn't win. The next day Mr. Nelson died of a heart attack. He couldn't take the letdown. Christmas can be the Super Bowl of letdowns.
I heard about an elderly man in Florida who called his son in Boston and told him that he hated to ruin his day, but he and his mother were divorcing. He said that forty-five years of misery was enough. The son screamed into the phone, "What are you talking about?" His dad replied, "We can't stand the sight of each other and we're tired of each other. Call your sister in Chicago and tell her."
The son frantically called his sister, who exploded into the phone receiver, "No way are they getting a divorce. I'll take care of this." She immediately called her dad and screamed at him that they were not getting a divorce and not to do anything rash until she arrived in Florida. She then called her brother back and told him that they needed to get to Florida ASAP! As the old man ambled back into the living room, he smiled at his wife and said, "The kids are coming for Christmas, and they're paying their own way!"
Years ago, a young boy learned that the circus was coming to town. He had never seen a circus but had heard about how wonderful they were. He eagerly asked his dad if he could go. Reluctantly, his father informed him that he didn't think they could afford the one dollar admission. However, he told his son that since the circus was still a few weeks away, if the boy worked hard and earned fifty cents, he would provide the remaining funds.
When the day arrived, the boy had enough money to buy a ticket. With great excitement, he arrived on Main Street to see the lions, tigers, performers, and clowns march down the street. He had never seen anything so thrilling and was mesmerized by all the wonderful things. As the last clown danced by, the boy handed him his ticket, then headed back home. Later, when his dad arrived home from work, he remarked, "Son, you're home from the circus a lot earlier than I expected. How was it?" His son described all of the clowns, lions, tigers, and performers that danced by him. He then told his dad about giving his ticket to a clown. All of a sudden a look of sadness fell across the dad's face and, with a tear in his eye, he told his son to come to him. He picked him up, put him on his lap, and said, "Son, I have some bad news for you. Today, you missed the circus. You only saw the parade."
There was a family that traveled to New York City to see the musical South Pacific. When they arrived, they discovered it was completely sold out. Discouraged, they decided to go to dinner. As they were eating, they discussed the reasons they had come to the Big Apple. One of the main reasons was to tell everyone back home they had seen South Pacific. They decided to go to the auditorium, pick up some ticket stubs, learn some of the songs, and tell everyone at home they had actually seen the musical.
Sadly, Christmas will come and go and there will be many people who miss the main event. They will have been to a few parades, hummed some songs, and may even have a few stubs, but the reality is they will have missed Christmas. If all that's left at the end of the season is a stub and a few songs, Christmas will have been empty. If you don't have Jesus, you don't have Wonderful. You don't have Counselor. You don't have Mighty God. You don't have Prince of Peace. You don't have Eternal Father. Jesus is Christmas. It's not a parade or a place — Christmas is a Person. Christmas is not just about when He came, but why He came. It isn't just about how good He is; it's that He is God. This Christmas, go ahead and have the best parade you've ever had. Go to a musical, sing the songs, decorate the tree, give someone red socks — but don't miss Jesus.
Charles Lowery is a member of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, Louisiana, founder and president of LIFE, Inc., and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 903-881-9422 or www.charleslowery.