I was once lost in the dark. I dreamed of a world of peace and love and harmony on this earth. It made no difference how we would get there-communism, natural selection, genetics, technology, philosophy, nuclear disarmament, civil rights, protecting the whales and the rainforests, recycling, lowering the CO2 emissions, or some other great humanistic or environmentalist idea. I believed that everything was relative. I rejected the idea that there was Truth outside my own judgment.
Some people (Karl Marx, John Lennon, and many best-selling authors today among them) have said that the world would be a better place if we got rid of religion. Here is a brief description of the "natural" man: He has either chosen to deny God, or wages war on Him; or he accepts God as his Creator but now that he is all grown up, he no longer needs God to tell him right from wrong. I went through all three stages. During all of them one thing remained unchanged-I wanted the structure of the moral world (and in the last case, my relationship to God) on my own terms. I was as proud as Lucifer on the day he became Satan.
". . . that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
Yet God did not give up on me. One day He uprooted me and led me to a family in Carbondale, Illinois. And He used that family to lead me to a book. I had seen that book before and had read some of it. It had seemed to me, in my former "natural" state of mind, that it contained good pieces of human wisdom, maybe even prophetical words. But now I read it with a changed heart. And it all made sense. I saw Christ, my Redeemer, in the first page of this book. I saw the promise of the Savior at the fall of Adam and Eve. I saw the prophecies of Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection-hundreds of them, written centuries before the star of Bethlehem shone in the dark. I saw the fulfillment of God's promise to wash me of my sins.
I raise my own children now, and one of our favorite songs says that "a thankful heart is a happy heart." I try to teach them to thank God every day for all the things that make us happy: family, health, friends, food, home, nature, soccer. . . . I am thankful that God has sought me when I was not seeking Him. That He intervened in my life and made peace with me when I was in open rebellion against Him. In His love for me, God has let His body to be broken and His blood to be spilled on that cross. He adopted me as His child. I did nothing to deserve it. God has given me His mercy-the punishment I deserve, He took upon Himself. And He has given me His grace-the heaven I do not deserve, I receive for free. That is why it's called a gift.
". . . God sent not His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through Him might be saved."
I still make mistakes every day, but I am no longer comfortable with my sins. I try to resist them and pray for forgiveness. When I have problems these days I don't need a shrink or a priest because God has opened the door for me and I can tell Him everything. He listens; He takes my burdens upon Himself and restores me. Not on my terms but on His. And I am happy to trust in His wisdom.
Merry Christmas to you all.