Author Archives: Curtis Shelburne

“How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Going?”

Well, how are your New Year’s resolutions coming along?

Oh? Sorry. I didn’t mean to touch a sore spot. I suppose nothing is a much sorer spot for humans than having to face the fact that we don’t measure up even to our own standards, much less to God’s. The spirit indeed is willing. We want to do better. Be better. But the flesh is ever so weak. Which is why I’m increasingly unimpressed with human resolutions and will power and more and more amazed by our Father’s power as we trust him and not ourselves.

We need to keep in mind who we are. We’re all prodigal sons and daughters.

Do you remember Christ’s story in Luke 15, the story of “The Prodigal Son”? Remember how that young fool demanded his inheritance, ran off from home, and partied it all away? This Jewish young man ended up slopping hogs (not a great job for anyone, but particularly loathsome for a “Jewish young man,”) and hungrily wishing he could eat what they ate. Remember how he “came to his senses” and decided to return to his father? Remember how all along the road he rehearsed his speech of contrition? Remember how he realized that he didn’t deserve to be accepted even as a slave much less as a son? Remember his joy as through sheer mercy and grace his father ran to meet him, embraced him, put a signet ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and threw a party because the son that was lost was now found? Oh, yes, and remember the older son grinching about his father’s grace?

We are all prodigal sons and daughters. And never more in need of grace than at the times we grouch about the Father’s giving grace to others. The difficult part of our prodigal experience is the walk back to the Father as we realize that his grace is our last, and only, hope. The wonderful part is feeling the warmth of his embrace and realizing that his grace is not only all we have, it is all we need, and it is freely, deeply, willingly given.

It’s a costly gift, you know.

Once the Father had another Son who left home on an infinitely longer journey for a much holier reason. Old as the universe, that Son became young to see a world reborn. To give it life, to give it grace, he lay his life down.

To give prodigals like us the gift of grace cost the Father the blood of his firstborn Son. And now the most expensive gift of all, the one we could never possibly afford but the one, the only one, that will answer our need, is given for free. It’s ours if we trust the Father enough to accept it.

The only resolution that ultimately matters is the decision to trust the Father and accept his embrace.

Shhh. Not too loud now. Don’t tell the older son, but when God’s kids come home, there’s always a big party in heaven.

 

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

  

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


“I Know These Things About the New Year”

As I write this week’s column, can I just admit from the outset that I’m not sure I should be writing this week’s column? At least, not on this topic. I could easily come off as grouchy and pessimistic, depressed and depressing. Better to keep my mouth shut.

But I’ll give it a shot. Writing, that is. I’m not disciplined enough to shut up.

You see, just a few days ago we blew right into and right past the eighth day of Christmas, better known as New Year’s Day. Personally, I care more about the former designation than the latter.

A few months ago, I was driving my truck, which I love, down the highway when the odometer rolled over past 100,000 miles. I’ve hit insects that made more of an impact; I didn’t notice any stutter or glitch or alarm at all.

The same was true on New Year’s Eve a few nights ago. My first breath in the new year felt exactly like my last breath in the old one. At least, I think it did. Since I’d been asleep an hour or so, I didn’t notice. No, I didn’t see the big ball drop in New York (via TV or otherwise). I’d much rather have a root canal than be in that crowd in person. (But I feel the same way about attending the Super Bowl in person. I’d love to win tickets to that “event” so I could sell them, seek mountain snow, rent a cabin, and read a good book by a fire.)

I’ve wondered if our God notices very much the turn of calendar pages. Off the cuff, my first reaction is a snort and a No. But I have to quickly modify that response. He certainly is divinely, intimately, marvelously, aware of the “times.” He sent his Son into this world “when the time had fully come.” And that was exactly “when Quirinius was governor of Syria” and “during the time of King Herod.”

When we wonder what kind of year this new one will be, we might well spend some serious time pondering the time when Jesus was born. Joy, as in “good news of great joy,” was off the chart for angels and some shepherds and, later, a few wise men. But—and this is not the stuff of Christmas cards—so was sorrow for the mothers of the boy babies and toddlers Herod would slaughter in Bethlehem. Heaven knew that hope and boundless joy, love itself, would triumph, set free by Mary’s sweet birth-tears. But only the God of the universe could also completely feel the hot bitterness of the tears of her bereaved Bethlehem sisters and know that Love’s sacrifice would one day redeem even their own. I believe God’s heart was the only heart more broken than theirs. And how could they understand that then? How deep will be our vision into God’s plan as we see events unfolding this year?

So what do I know for sure at the beginning of this new year? I know I’ve got a new medical deductible. I know that taxes will soon be due. I know this year’s politics will be depressing. I know I’ve got an incredible amount to be thankful for and that I’m not as thankful as I should be. (I’m working on it. Hugging grandkids really helps!)

I know that some things will get better. Not as many things as I’d like.

I know that some things will get worse. More things than I’d like.

I have no crystal ball to tell me which will be which. That is a blessing.

I also know that, if we don’t despair, God can grow our faith more in hard times than in easy times. (I don’t like that truth.)

I know that God is good in all times, loving in all times. I know that faith in my Father is always a better choice than bitterness and cynicism.

And I know that at the end, because God is the Father who allowed his own heart to be broken to save us, love and laughter and joy will win.

I know that I’ll need you at times to remind me of that. And I’ll try to do the same for you.

 

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 


A Look Inside the Mangers of Our Minds

“There is holiness to memory,” Philip Gulley writes in his Christmas in Harmony, and “a sense of God’s presence” in what Gulley calls the “mangers of the mind.”

Perhaps the memories in the manger center on wonderful moments in a decades-long line of Christmas Eve services or the particular way your family lit the Advent candles each year. Other memories in the manger almost certainly focus on Christmas joys, as commonplace as they are special, all wrapped up in the way your mother always orchestrated the trimming of the tree, or the way your father handed out the gifts on Christmas morning, or your family’s favorite egg nog recipe or your clan’s most treasured Christmas stories and shows, movies and music.

From the oldest in the family for whom Christmases now seem to roll around at a once-a-week rate to the youngest little one just learning to focus on the sparkle of the Christmas lights and herself lighting up the family on her first Christmas, everyone has those memories, lovingly placed in the “mangers of the mind.” And each of them is itself a gift from the One who is the greatest Gift ever given and the real center of every joy.

So much beauty.

So much joy.

What is remarkable is that so much of it is all wrapped up just like last year and the year before, or the year 30 years before.

Woe to the family member who messes much with the recipe!

The Christmas Eve package-openers will likely always look askance at the Christmas morning package-openers.  The one-at-a-time-while-everyone-watches package openers will always harbor grave doubts about the Cretans who tear into all the presents, every man for himself, all at the same time. Each group will always wonder about the other, what’s wrong with people who would be so crass as to open their presents in that unauthorized way, at that unsanctified-by-time time?

Why are we so bothered—yea, verily, offended—by anyone who dares to fiddle with our Christmas customs?

Because you don’t lightly mess with memories lovingly laid in the mangers of our minds. Yes, the Infant slumbering in the first manger is by far the holiest resident of all, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that the memories lovingly placed in the other mangers of our minds aren’t precious in their own right. In their own ways, they point beautifully toward Him.

Too often we think that what we really need to change our lives is something new, something exciting. But Philip Gulley reminds us that “the occasions that change the least are often the very occasions that change us the most.”

 

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“The Red Hat in a Gray-suit World”

“By the way, I’m not doing Christmas cards. If you want them sent, you’ll have to do it.”

According to Sam Gardner in Philip Gulley’s delightful “Harmony” series, it was the same “fight” every year. Sam, pastor of the Harmony Friends’ Meeting (Quaker church) would buy four boxes of Christmas cards at Kivett’s Five and Dime and lay them on the dining room table with the address book nearby.

On this particular year, nothing happened. So he moved the cards into the bedroom, placing them near his wife Barbara’s side of the bed. A day later, he found them relocated to his side with a note on top: “I wasn’t kidding.”

Sam’s a smart guy. I’m surprised he hadn’t figured out years ago that the only “safe” way to send Christmas cards to his parishioners was to put one in the newsletter so as to be utterly democratic about Yuletide best wishes. Any other approach is fraught with danger.

The Gardner’s Christmas card list was growing at an alarming rate. The main category comprised of the church membership list was especially large. It was easy to get in the directory. Even the repairman who had come to fix the church freezer just before the church ladies’ annual Chicken Noodle Dinner fundraiser for Brother Norman’s Shoe Ministry to the Choctaw Indians was rewarded with honorary membership. (Not a single noodle was lost.)

Once you were in the directory, well, there you were. To ever be removed took something very serious, something like a death certificate signed in triplicate. Non-attendance and non-giving would not do it. If you drove past the church once a month and smiled, you were on the list, like it or not.

All of which meant that the Gardner’s Christmas card list was beginning to look like the IRS roll and likely included a few folks long since deceased.

But the handwriting was on the wall, not yet on the cards, and so Sam got to work. And Barbara, after a compromise, helped. Sam would write the inside, she’d address the outside, and he’d do the stamps.

It was going well until Barbara read the one to the freezer repairman.

“‘We love you’? You wrote that on every card? Isn’t that a bit over the top? What’s wrong with ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Thinking of You’? The freezer guy will get a confusing message, Mr. Loverboy, and feel like he and his wife need to invite us over, and then we’ll have to invite them over—me, cooking—and . . .”

“If you remember, you told me to write the cards.”

It’s a sweet annual argument, Sam says. His wife, modest and traditional, argues for just a bit of reserve while he maintains that God, instead of sending a lawyer to ‘define the limits of love,’ sent His Son.

After all, Sam tells his good wife, “Christmas is not the time to hold back. It is the bold stroke, the song in the silence, the red hat in a gray-suit world.”

And so it is. Indeed, it is.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

  

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Thank God for Shepherds and Stargazers!

Thank the Lord for shepherds and stargazers!

While muckety-mucks in Rome were trying to figure out new and improved ways to shake even more shekels from the pockets of the subjugated populace and further filch the meager bread of the common man, the Highest of Kings was pretty much ignoring Rome. The true King was dispatching a troop of angelic hosts, any one of whom would be stronger than an assembly of all of Rome’s best troops, to appear before shepherds.

Shepherds!?

Yes, shepherds. Minimum wage kinds of folks Caesar would have completely ignored if he hadn’t wanted them on the tax roll.

And isn’t that just like the King in whose kingdom the janitor waxing the floor and whistling “Amazing Grace” could easily be a wealthier man and a truly mightier citizen than the CEO scurrying off to attend yet another “success” seminar, completely unaware that the janitor he bumped in the hall has already found success and could teach him where to find it if he’d stop and listen and learn? But he doesn’t have time to stop. Or to learn.

And don’t forget the stargazers, the night sky watchers with their faces turned upward focusing on another sort of heavenly host while Rome’s bean counters had their noses buried in ledgers, figuring taxable income, gross national product, and formulating plans to try to squeeze twice as much work out of tired employees for half as much pay. Bureaucrats never change. You can be sure they were looking for ways to further complicate anything they could “improve” that had once been simple, and struggling with such momentous questions as whether shepherds and bakers both had to file the same Form CCLXI-revised or if Form CCLXI-EZ would do.

At Bethlehem, God reminds us that almost everything we take for granted about power and prestige, success and status—not to mention “generally accepted accounting principles”—in the kingdoms of men is in God’s kingdom beautifully, wonderfully, delightfully, topsy-turvy if not altogether ignored.

As Max Lucado writes, “Were it not for shepherds, there would have been no reception. And were it not for a group of stargazers, there would have been no gifts.”

Yes, indeed. Thank God for shepherds and stargazers!

 

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

 

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Will We Be Ready for the Real Joy of His Coming?”

Zero to sixty. That’s how fast this year we revved up the Thanksgiving sleigh, slid “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” slammed down the turkey and dressing, and, before the tasty bird was even digested, hitched up the red-nosed reindeer, jingling all the way.

My head’s spinning, and my feet are having a very hard time catching up with the calendar. Christmas will be here before we know it, and, lest we take measures, before we’re genuinely ready to observe it. In about ten minutes, even the part that most loudly demands our time and attention will be packed into some big boxes and shoved under the stairs or hoisted up into the attic. It will be done. And we will be done in.

Then comes January, lit off with a sparkler or two, featuring loud parties and artificial joy, all the more plastic and phony compared to the genuine joy of the glory explosion that only the God of the universe could have sparked (oh, so quietly for an explosion) at Bethlehem long ago. The glory of one angel, much less an “angelic host,” appearing to a few startled but immensely blessed shepherds trumps an electrified ball appearing to a million mindless folks at a hyped up pep rally any day.

But hot on the heels of December, January will have arrived. And January blues. And January clearance sales. And January merchandise returns.  And January tax forms. And January bills for stuff we really didn’t need that we bought with money we really didn’t have.

The turkey will be long gone. And the reindeer’s red light will be out, or at least invisible, since the FAA doesn’t require a light (any color) on the south end of a reindeer headed north.

Our heads will be spinning again. And we’ll wonder, how did we get here? Man, that was fast!

I know of no way to slow down the passage of time (though I could preach you a sermon or two that would certainly seem to slow it down). I think the real task for Christians is to participate each moment in God’s redemption of time. That’s the wisdom of our predecessors in the faith, and I’ve always found that there’s much more wisdom to be gained from dead people than from folks who just happen to be breathing right now. Their experience is that we can ask God to help us squeeze the meaning, the joy, and even the sorrow, out of each moment’s fruit, and thus find blessing.

I’ve always loved Christmas, but I’ve found that for the meaning and joy of Christ’s coming to fill every star and light, smile and gift, I need to intentionally find some quiet time in the weeks and days before its arrival to ask God to help me be ready. Personally, I love the tradition of observing the Advent season (the word has to do with “coming”) during which Christians centuries ago (at least from the fourth century) set aside time to use Scriptures and prayers and readings to help “prepare the way” into their hearts. I seem particularly drawn to words and songs that bless my soul now even more as I realize they were written and sung first by many generations of souls now gathered to the Author of their faith. In faith, one day I will be, too.

In the meantime, with them I ponder Christ’s coming. His first. His second. And I pray for the Father to help us not waste this precious time, his gift to us right now to prepare the way into our hearts for the coming of that greatest Gift.

 

       

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

  

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Merry Thanksgiving!”

For just a moment, ponder this year’s calendar. You’ve already noticed, I’m sure, that it is playing tricks on us this time around.

Thanksgiving and the turkey, dragging their heels, showed up way late, which means that Advent (and thus Christmas) are upon us way early. I’ve often complained that the most difficult Sunday of the year to plan and “to preach on” is the usual “dead” Sunday, falling between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent. You see, your official Thanksgiving sermon was the Sunday before, but on the usual “between the seasons” Sunday, most congregants are totally turkey-stuffed. They have lapsed into a feast-fed stupor, albeit a grateful one. The most committed will probably show up for worship that day but, truth be told, nobody, including the pastor, is terribly excited about the prospect.

Ah, but this year the scene has changed. I’m writing on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. It is also the first day of December and the first Sunday of Advent. Thanksgiving weekend and December have crashed right into each other, a bit of a wreck with ramifications. If you’re a retailer, you’ll have six fewer days to “re-tail” this year. If you are, say, a person who loves to sing Christmas songs for folks during the holiday, well, you’ve got six fewer days to sing Christmas programs (and it’s six days closer to your annual post-Christmas singing depression).

And, yes, if you’re a pastor planning a variety of seasonal church and worship activities, services, sermons, etc., it might be helpful to know that this year when the wise men show up, they probably won’t be bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh. More likely they’ll be loaded up with turkey, dressing, and giblet gravy.

You might also look for four of them. The reason we assume that the first wise guys were a trio is not because the Bible says there were three of them; no, it is because Scripture says there were three gifts. We thus assume one gift per guy.

But if that first Christmas had been as close to Thanksgiving as this one, I figure our Christmas cards would be featuring an additional wise fellow, the song would be “We Four Kings,” and one more little guy in a church Christmas pageant would need to borrow his dad’s bathrobe to dress up for the journey down the church aisle to Bethlehem under the star up front. Because? Because I’m betting that somebody’s wise wife would have packed his camel bags with some cranberry sauce as a gift to go along with the other three guys’ tasty offerings. And that makes four. Four gifts. And four wise men.

Anyway, for more than a few folks, it was leftover turkey and dressing for lunch on the very Sunday that we lit the first Advent candle. Merry Thanksgiving!

But maybe this year’s calendar crash is not as much of a clash as I first thought. You see, Thanksgiving reminds me that no matter how hard I’ve worked, the most noteworthy thing about my life is how completely needy and poverty-stricken I am when it comes to saving myself. The blessings I need the most are blessings straight from God, blessings that only he could give, blessings that I could never earn, deserve, or procure myself.

Guess what? Here comes Christmas with much the same lesson, written large: “Get over yourself, pilgrim! The Gift given to save you is God’s Gift, not one you could ever have given or even imagined. You can’t improve it, add to it, or in any way deserve it. You can just accept it.”

Peanut butter and jelly. Turkey and dressing. Joy and thanksgiving. Some things just go together. Odd calendar? Yes. But it comes with a very fine lesson.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Sherlock Holmes and Thanksgiving

In an old issue of Leadership Journal, Chris T. Zwingelberg observed that though everyone is familiar with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and his amazingly keen powers of observation, few of us are aware of Holmes’ belief that deduction and observation are even more necessary in faith and religion than they are in detective work.

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, Doyle pictures his famous sleuth studying a simple rose. Holmes’ famous sidekick Doctor Watson observes, “He walked past the couch to an open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any interest in natural objects.”

Doyle writes that Holmes leaned “against the shutters” and observed, “There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion.”

He continued, “Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

I think the great sleuth has discovered something important. Think about it. (By the way, the root word from which “thanksgiving” comes is also the root for “think.” To really think is to be truly thankful.)

God has absolutely showered us with extras. With his brush he has painted a world dripping with color when, for most things, a few shades of gray would do.

Our Creator has populated our lives with wonderfully interesting people not even the most creative author could have envisioned.

He has given us the ability to enjoy an astonishing variety of tastes. Many of us will be doing our best during the upcoming holiday to check those out!

Thanksgiving, the holiday, is a wonderful time, and I pray it will be a time of sweet blessing for you and yours. But even when the holiday is in the rear view mirror, the “extras” from the hand of God will keep right on coming. That means that every day is a good day for gratitude.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Writing on Monday Mornings Is a Challenge

 

Here we go again. It’s Monday morning. Mondays come after Sundays, and, like most pastors, I tend to be toast on Monday mornings. Brain dead but breathing.

It’s not the best day to write, but the deadline for this column is noon on Mondays. Someday, when pigs fly and twits quit tweeting, I’ll embrace some discipline and manage to write days before the deadline. But I like to think that I write best with adrenaline pumping and coffee fueling neurological fission.

If I wait until Monday morning, adrenaline and coffee are both available at the house. So I pull on sweats, sit in the recliner, tap away at the keyboard, listen to the clock chiming in the background. At this moment, I’ve got a full hour and 35 minutes to get this written and off to the various venues. I’m ahead of the game.

This morning’s session is a tad unusual; I’m icing a knee as I write. I value our relationship and appreciate the trust you place in me each week as you read these words, so I’ll tell you the truth about the injury (which, thanks for asking, is very minor).

I twisted the knee just a little as I jumped a bit too quickly out of a hovering helicopter. We were doing a little early heli-skiing in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, and I knew I was a bit hasty out the door; I didn’t hit the deck or face plant into powder, but I did feel a pop/jolt and then some nagging tightness in that right knee all the way down the “waaaa-y past double black diamond” mountain face. What a rush!

Okay. Not really. I just didn’t want to alarm you.

The fact is that I surprised an intruder in our house one late night last week. I’d gotten out of bed to get a drink of water, strapped my Walther PPK 9mm onto my calf as usual, and headed for the kitchen. As I came through the door into the living room, I saw the huge, masked hulking figure as he opened the refrigerator door, his dark grim visage briefly outlined in the 20-volt appliance light reflecting off a milk jug (whole, not, heaven forbid, 2% or skim).

Instinctively, I knew the miscreant was reaching for leftover smoked ribs. Oddly enough, I had an absolutely clear view of the 44-magnum revolver he suddenly raised. Time froze; my training kicked in. In two seconds that seemed like eternity, I threw myself to the ground, rolled, came up firing. I shot the gun out of his hand and double-tapped him, not in the head and heart since I’m a pastor and merciful, but in both knees so that following a period of repentance and physical therapy, he would live and be loath to pilfer barbecue ever again—or, at least, a good deal slower if he succumbed to temptation.

Not buying it, are you?

Okay, I should’ve used knee pads one day last week when I was kneeling on the garage floor to pray. Uh, actually, to cut sheet rock. Just a little bruising or bursitis, I think.

I don’t know what your Monday mornings are like. Mine are much like I just described, sans helicopter and 9mm. Most Monday mornings, I do try to write a little about faith. Yes, with adrenaline. And coffee. Rarely, ice.

But always with a prayer that God will give us the faith to live the week with strength and hope, mercy and joy. Oh, and also truthfulness.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Grief: It Is a Very Large Word Indeed

Grief. It’s a far bigger word than we usually think.

Oh, we all know that it applies to the loss wrought by death as we’ve stood at the graveside of a loved one, smelled the flowers, felt the emptiness, and wondered how to face a world so suddenly changed.

And every day changes. We may think we’re doing, well, some better. At least, maybe making small steps in the right direction. And then we get up on the next day and find ourselves, it seems, having taken two, or twenty, steps backward.

Following the death of his wife, C. S. Lewis wrote of grief’s pervasiveness, “Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection . . . I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.”

Grief seems to color everything. We long for the time to come when it isn’t the first thing that hits us in the face yet again each morning and the last thing we think of before we finally find sleep each night.

Such is so very true regarding death-induced grief.

But grief is spelled L-O-S-S, and loss comes in many bitter flavors.

Whatever dreams you had for your marriage, only your nightmares would have included the divorce that throttled those dreams.

Whatever your dreams for your child, well, only bad dreams included . . .

Your dreams for your business or profession were bright and optimistic and seemed real at the time, but . . .

Maybe you’d dreamed of traveling in retirement. And now? You are. Mostly to specialists and pharmacies.

In any of your dreams for the future, did these words figure in? Cancer. Addiction. Bankruptcy. Jail. Tragedy. Hurt. Disappointment. Depression.

Need I mention that those are not words you’ll ever lightly drop into a Christmas letter?

And by the way, in the midst of such loss is one that colors it all and may surprise you until we name it. But we need to name it. It’s the loss of control.

“I don’t know what to do about . . .”

“What now?”

“Here’s what needs to happen, but I can’t . . .”

“I have no clue what . . .”

“I can’t imagine how I’ll . . .”

The ship has already embarked. You’re in the midst of the sea and the storm. And the rudder has broken loose from the wheel.

Need I tell you? This is frightening. Worse, really. This is terrifying.

Will it help much if I point out that none of us was ever really in control anyway? That was largely an illusion.

But maybe it will help a little for us to consider where we actually might try to exert a little control. Maybe just in small moments at first. But in our attitudes. In our next footstep. In sincerely asking for help, for each of the ten thousand times we’ve asked and failed yet again to truly “cast our cares” on the Captain of our souls (and leave them there). He really does care for us, love us, more than we can imagine.

As deeply frightened as I often am on life’s sea, I believe that the “man of sorrows” really is “acquainted with” our grief in all of its forms. We can believe in and trust his willingness to “carry our sorrows.”

And, paradoxically, stronger and deeper, more real and pervasive than any of our genuine grief, is his joy. When all of our griefs and hot tears have faded away, his joy will remain for a thousand forevers.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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