23. If I had a favorite number that would be it. It was Ryne Sandberg’s uniform number as well as Michael Jordan’s number. However, this year, 23 is not so good of a number.
That’s because 23 is the number of Christmas cards we’ve received this year and we’re depressed. Usually we get about 30 or 40 Christmas cards in the mail. My wife has an un-official contest with her sister to see who can accumulate the most Christmas cards. Her sister is winning this year.
It’s been eating at us for the past week that we only have 23 cards. It’s all we’ve talked about. We keep hoping the next day will bring a Christmas miracle and there will be 20 cards in our post office box. But, alas, no such miracle.
As I was thinking of these things I began to feel somewhat ashamed that my greatest disappointment at Christmas time is my lack of greeting cards.
When I consider that half the world, nearly 3 billion people, live on less than $2 a day, I am ashamed.
When I consider the number of homeless in the USA, though difficult to pinpoint (Some 13.5 million in the USA have experienced "literal homelessness" at least once in their lives - forced to live with friends, sleep in cars, stay in tents at state or national parks, or take the occasional room at a flophouse. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlighthealth/2002-12-18-spotlight-health_x.htm), is somewhere between 2.3 million and 3.5 million people during an average year, I am ashamed.
We have so much.
We have a roof over our heads. We have clothes on our back. We have food on our table. We have a warm place to sleep at night and a few dollars in the bank. We have people who care about us and a family with which to spend Christmas. We are blessed.
It seems amazing that we want more and feel bad that we don’t have as much as the person next door when really, we have so much.
On Friday I dropped a young man from our church off at the Greyhound station. The church bought him a ticket to go see his sister for Christmas.
His father kicked him out of the house several years ago. He hopped buses and relied on the generosity of strangers to bring him to Chicago. In Chicago he was homeless, living on the streets, eating and sleeping in shelters and missions and night. He took a train from Chicago and ended up in Toledo earlier this year. The church in Toledo has taken him in with open arms. He has a one bedroom home of his own, a job and some friends. He has a church family.
As I took him to the Greyhound station I was struck with the sheer greatness of God’s goodness in our lives. He has given us so much. While we may not have all the material possessions we want the things that really matter are what God has given us in abundance.
He was going to see a half-sister that he hasn’t seen in years and spend Christmas with her family. However, all he could talk about was getting back to go to a friends house for a Christmas meal. The church has become his real family.
James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (http://bible.cc/james/1-17.htm ).
On Christmas Eve I realize, now more than ever, I have every good gift I could ever want. I have a wonderful, faithful wife. I have a beautiful daughter, a family and a church that loves us all.