December 14, 2015
Feliz Navidad, y Prospero Año Nuevo.
We’re seeing the resurgence of the Post Office; this is their big month. Our mailbox should have a “No Vacancy” sign; Christmas Cards now outnumber new credit card offers in the stack.
Lots of photo cards; we get to see everyone in our relational world, at least once a year. That made the multicultural greeting stand out; the expression in Spanish speaks to our changing culture. Translated: Merry Christmas, and a Prosperous New Year.
Most of the presidential candidates – from both parties – present some version of that offer: a vote for them will lead to prosperity (Webster: flourishing). Hallmark suggests that you can wish it on someone, as part of a Christmas blessing. I use Mapquest to plot my travels on roads; if the Bible had a mapping app that gave directions for the places we’re hoping to go in life, what is the shortest route to prosperity, at Christmas… or, anytime? Here’s the turn-by-turn path that goes to the flourishing horizon:
The trip starts at Hopeless: you don’t go anywhere with God until you recognize the fallacy of traveling alone. Dead is His diagnosis of the life without Him; until you realize the futility of going without Him, your only destination is deficiency and destruction.
The next milestone is Surrender: He demands what He deserves, and that’s your utter allegiance. He wrote the contract for salvation; you must sign it on His terms, with no amendments allowed. With no claim of power to challenge His requirements, you must accept His death and resurrection for yourself.
The trip crosses over the border from death to life, and Confidence is the new territory. The guarantees that came from Surrender begin to crystallize: He will never rescind the promise of life – everlasting – with Him, beyond death. There is no U-turn provision in the journey; you will be waved-through the guard gate of Heaven someday. That’s a wow…
But, wait: Heaven is still over-the-horizon. You’re not even close to the end of the road, and there are side roads that present multiple diversions. What’s the best route to take, beyond Confidence?
Too many people miss the long stretch called Faithfulness: that’s the daily exercise of checking the map, and following it explicitly. The life map is the Scriptures, and God expects it to be the explicit counsel for the moment-by-moment navigation of the adventure. He doesn’t present a buffet of options; rather, a systematic itinerary that points your way to ultimate living. Faithfulness – some call it Obedience – is not an occasional exception… but, rather, a resolute lifestyle. That’s a long parkway…
As life’s road-trip continues – and you set the cruise control of Faithfulness – you see yourself in a new environment. This new country is called Generosity, and you find yourself making frequent stops to assist people you meet along the way. Fix a flat? Share a gallon of gas? Pass an extra sandwich from your lunch basket? Give directions for the person who looks lost? You no longer look at those requests from a position of deficiency; you feel the wind at your back and the sufficiency of what you packed for the trip. You can share without risking going-without. A feeling of gratitude – for the giver – can’t be explained, but it’s sure enjoyed. When you siphon off a gallon – while watching your gauge rise toward “full” – the peace you feel makes the trip a delight.
The road sign confirms the last leg of the jaunt: it’s Prosperity, and when you look out the window, it’s everything you always wanted… but thought impossible. Everything you long for – this side of Glory – surrounds you. The invitation to Prosperity is spread across the Old Testament – mentioned 84 times – but it’s always the byproduct of obedience. Follow the map… and you’ll get there.
Merry Christmas… and a Prosperous New Year. What’s your next step to get there?