By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Institute
If there was one thing I could give to everyone in the world this Christmas, it would be adequate food and clean water. With the God-given abundance of this planet, we have no excuse for anyone going hungry or dying from diarrhea caused by tainted water.
Yet, the carnage continues. Nearly one billion of the world’s seven billion people are consistently underfed. Many, especially the young, literally waste away and starve to death. In the U.S., 49 million people struggle to put food on the table – and one in five children goes to bed hungry each night.
Looking ahead to 2018, I pray that we all can do a better job of making the world a better place for everyone. Meanwhile, perhaps we can also do more – even just a little bit more – in 2017.
A second gift
If there was something else I could give everyone in the world this Christmas, it would be the habit of using our time well – meaning not that we would all move faster to get more done, but that we would all reach a balance between purpose, activity, awareness, service and gratitude.
Advent is a time of preparation, and to prepare we have to reflect on several things:
- For what are we preparing?
- How can we best do that?
- Apart from the details, how can we properly dispose our hearts to be ready for the birth of our Savior and all the promise that entails?
Yet, the brief season of Advent is compressed even more by the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas preparations – not all of them all that well connected to the underlying religious purpose of the celebration.
In our household, we’ve got furniture to move; a little tree to decorate; stockings to hang; other decorations to display; a Christmas letter to write; cards to sign, stuff, address and stamp; schedules to coordinate so the nuclear family can all come together across the miles and myriad schedules; wish lists to compile, gifts to buy and wrap, baking to do.
Christmas will be here before we can take a post-Advent breath. Then there won’t be time to recover from Christmas before the New Year intrudes – forcing our focus forward, away from recollections of loving times shared, into an unknown frontier known as the future.
Then it’s a time to resolve – to live better, healthier, more helpful and generous lives. We can hope. We can try. We can persist.
Yes, it all happens so fast, as if we are silver spheres in a pinball machine, bouncing all about, careening off the vicissitudes of life, sometimes ringing bells, sometimes igniting lights, sometimes just rolling toward the exit without much hope of a reprieve.
Through it all, moving forward I hope to do a better job of being in the present – of appreciating moments shared as we share them and long after that when I am alone.
I’m going to pray that you and I do a better job of savoring each moment for what it is, whether we are alone or with others, sweating blood or quietly reflecting, enjoying the heat or enduring the cold.
Life is good. It’s all good. And the more I realize that, the better it gets.
In that realization, it’s easier to rise to life’s challenges. I pray we can all do that in the moments that await us.
Hold fast to this as you move ahead: Leadership matters ... always and everywhere.
Best wishes for a purposeful Advent, a joyous Christmas and an exhilarating New Year.
Lead well ... as Jesus would.