New Living Translation (NLT)
The Death of Jesus
28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
[ The Death of Jesus ] At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.
Okay, after reading the verses for this blog, you may think it strange and maybe I have my holidays mixed up, nope I am using it to make a valid point, trust me! God showed me something today as I was trying to figure out why this man had a tent set up a day before Thanksgiving in 40 degree weather waiting outside an electronics store in anticipation of a Black Friday sale. This really got me thinking about Christmas and all the lost truth of the season. God showed me how our focus is way off base. This holiday has become nothing more that a materialistic chance to get the best deals for some. Almost every year a life is lost in the struggle to get the items up for grabs. How have we gotten to this point when it all started in a manger in a stable in the middle of nowhere? I just cannot wrap my mind around it. In fact, some times getting the best Black Friday deal isn’t even for a gift that we are going to give to someone else, but for our own selfish gain. Sorry if I am offending anyone, but this is what the Holy Spirit is laying on my heart, totally not the direction I had planned to go with this. (funny how that happens)
As I entered the electronics store, only there for information on my daughters ipod, I saw all these fabulous material things everywhere trying to grab for my attention. As we began down an isle looking for someone to help us, we were approached by a cable television salesperson who graced us with a wonderful spiel about the newest and greatest offer that we should hurry and take advantage of. I had to stifle a giggle as I quickly explained I had given up television watching 2 and half years ago for lent and have not returned to watching it. The look on his face and the pause in his speech was priceless and he finally stammered to me that if I ever changed my mind to come check it out and walked away quickly. Sometimes people just cannot understand my choice not to be controlled by tv and that is okay, I gave it up and God filled it with more of Him and I am excited about that.
Anyways, the point I am trying to convey is that material things cannot be taken with us when we leave. We spend so much of our times “gathering” things we think we need when in reality we are just filling voids in our lives. We think sometimes the more we have or the more up-graded our gadget is, the more popular we will become. We fill our house with things and stuff that later end up in a yard sale after they lose their relevancy in our lives. As we focus on collecting these material things we lose sight quickly on the importance of the non-things in our lives. While this man is standing line for the best deal on a television or other gadget, he is missing out on precious time with family and friends. He might miss an opportunity to make a difference in someones life. He is missing Thanksgiving dinner which usually entails a gathering of family and friends, a chance to make real memories. I have never been a fan of Black Friday shopping and pretty sure I never will be, I just cannot see the sense in waiting in long lines and especially in Michigan where it is usually snowing!
Now I understand for some it is just a thrill, but let us go back to the First Black Friday for a moment and relate it somehow to present times. On a Friday Jesus died for our sins. The sky turned black and dark. The earth shook. God was showing up in a fury. He was about to crucify His only Son to save us. How do we repay this dark day? By celebrating the birth of this Only Son by spending hours in long lines, traveling miles out of our way, camping out in the snow and spending money just to make someone happy. How on earth did we make such a wrong turn? We have lost our focus on Jesus in the process. Let me make it real for you in my family life. If you have read my testimony, we struggled financially because our finances went to support my husbands drug addiction and our smoking habits, however Christmas was always spectacular in our home.
We decked the house with shiny trimmings a well decorated tree. Stockings were always filled with individually wrapped gifts. Even the pets in the house had stockings. We would spend all night wrapping gifts only to be awakened early so they could be ripped open. Now my husband felt that since we did not spoil our children throughout the year, we should give over and beyond our expected income to make them happy come Christmas morning. We spent my entire bonus check every year plus our last two checks combined. We spent ALOT on gifts for our two children. They had every new thing out there. Sure it was fun to them, but let us look behind the scenes for a moment.
Fights broke out between me and my husband every Christmas, I actually began to dread it. We were broke for weeks afterwards trying to catch up as we borrowed money to get through the weeks. Really? Did we stop to think for a moment that all our children really needed was a loving home and a few gifts under the tree? Every year it got worse and I am thankful now that my children are older and understand the value of the dollar bill. I am way less stressed and much less broke! I feel we need to get back to the reality of the season. For unto us was GIVEN a Savior who would save us from all of our sins. He died on a cross so that we could be free from sin forever. So this year, as we approach yet another Black Friday, what is our real reason behind the season of Christmas? The best deal for us or the best deal we were ever offered, Jesus.