PLYMOUTH, MI – Well, Christmas has come and gone and another year has just begun. Are you like the little boy who was asked what he wanted for Christmas, and his reply was: “I want contentment, cause that’s what I’m gonna need when I don’t get what I want.” Are you content or just cantankerous?
How is your tension level? About this time of the year when we have just brought to a close the Season of all Seasons, you are probably strung as tight as a banjo at a bluegrass concert. If not, it is because something popped when you were shopping a few weeks ago, and your emotions are just hanging there like a broken string. Is this any way to live? Is this the way we are to feel having just celebrated the greatest Gift of all? If not, then what has happened?
If you are like me, this holiday season has been an opportunity for a multitude of events to cross your path at those “special intersections of life”. Not big or major intersection collisions, but small bumps and dings that just happen.
Do you remember just a few short weeks ago when you had worked all day and rushed to the grocery store to buy all that swell food for your annual Thanksgiving feast? You felt like you had just finished the Boston Marathon and you were forced to pull the living members of your family tree in a wagon tied to your waist through the entire race. The aisles of the store were so crowded that you had to use turn signals and a portable horn to maneuver between the beans and carrots. When you finally found your place in the check out line there were ten people in front of you, and that was the shortest line. As the person just ahead of you cleared the end of the counter you looked into the eyes of that "sweet little checker" and smiled with all the Christian love that filled your heart and the season. Beads of perspiration dotted her forehead and confusion blanketed her face. The cash register paper had run out, and she didn't know how to replace it. Everyone with an IQ above 30 and the advanced technical ability to correct her problem was up to his or her eyeballs with customers. What did you do? How did you react? Did you bring your blood pressure medicine with you? How did you fare at this intersection of life?
Or do you remember that Friday night that you were going out with your significant other to that special dining spot that made the most incredible edible delights. You starved yourself all day so that you could play “Porky the Pig” that evening and lessen your gluttony guilt. After an hour and a half wait you were finally seated, and some teenager brings you a menu and a glass of water and says, "Buffy your waiter will be with you in just a sec!" Thirty minutes later "Buffy" shows up, but by that time you have chewed all four corners off the menu and have seriously considered making soup out of the ketchup. "Sorry to keep you waiting. What will you have tonight?" As you run through your list of culinary selections your mouth waters almost uncontrollably. It is at that point Buffy tells you, "I sorry, but all we have left is goose liver pate' and boiled fish." There it is. Another intersection in life. What did you do? Put the pedal to the metal, speed through that intersection, and make like “Buffy” was a bump in the road or did you respond with kindness and cordiality.
Life during the holidays can be tough. Tensions can run at extremely high levels and even to the point of exploding. But folks, remember who we represent. We don't have the privilege of "losing it" and running over others. EVER! Slow down. Be prepared to stop. Keep you eyes on "the road" and watch out for the other drivers. For all you know, they could have just come from the grocery store as well or a family reunion where all the crazy uncles gathered, and sibling rivalries escalated into fistfights. Just smile and be pleasant. Treat everyone with dignity and respect, but I would advise you not to smile too much. Those you encounter may think you stopped at the bar before you were seated.
Enjoy this new season of life and loosen up. The season to be jolly has come and gone, and now you have a whole new year to work on they way you drive and navigate through life. Be very mindful of those intersections. It is easy to run through them and over others. Stop. Look both ways. Especially up and into the eyes of those you meet. Never forget, they are the very ones for whom our Lord gave His life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.