Articles by Stan Dean

Family Gatherings: Happy and Sad

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Recently someone asked about a story that I like to tell this time of year and I thought it might be fitting to repeat it here. You might have heard it before, but please humor me one more time.

An acquaintance of mine lives near Dallas, Texas who has raised twelve children. All of them are now grown and gone from home and many of them now have children (and grandchildren) of their own. On one occasion, my friend was telling me what their Christmas celebration was like.

All of them gather at his house where they enjoy eating a large feast and exchanging gifts. Afterward they all sit around the family tree and sing Christmas carols. He told of these events in such vivid detail that you would think this family knows how to celebrate the “ideal” Christmas! Then, my friend leaned forward and asked, “Do you know what the greatest part of all of this is?” “No, what?” I inquired. He smiled and answered, “When I see all those little red taillights leaving my driveway!”

Many of you have engaged in this exhausting chore and can relate well to the sentiments of this story. Of course, you know as well as I that the good far outweighs the bad. Yet, family gatherings have both a happy and a sad side. Happy in that families that are often separated by miles and time constraints can spend time together and express their love for each other. Sad in that with far too many of us this is the only time of the year it happens.

Unfortunately, these same happy and sad sides often apply in spiritual matters, too. There is a big difference, however. Family separations are oftentimes beyond our control. Time spent with or away from God are always by choice! “Happy is the man who is always reverent…” (Proverbs 28:14).

So, may your family gatherings be “merry and bright” in the next few days. But more importantly, may we never forget the importance of staying close to God- - always! (cf. James 4:8).

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