I grew up on the West Coast of the US. The possibility of snow for Christmas was so remote that my mom would point to fog in the early morning as evidence that the holidays were just around the corner.
Unlike some of my family—who can’t wait to go downhill skiing—I don’t look forward to winter. When the first snowflake falls, I immediately start calculating how many months of Michigan winter are left.
Trouble comes our way, according to Psalm 93, in relentless waves that surge and pound against our souls and break upon them with furious force. “The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice,” and they are deafening (v.3).
As the year 2004 ended and 2005 began, the world suffered a series of catastrophes. Were they signs of Christ’s second coming? Were they evidence of God’s wrath, His judgment on mankind’s sin? Or were they simply the upheaval of natural forces?
When I was in college, I ran on the cross-country team. In the final event of the season, the state’s small colleges competed against each other, with about 75 runners in the event. We ran the 5K course in the rain and mud on a cold November day.
A little bit of doggerel goes as fol lows: “A cheerful old bear at the zoo could always find something to do. When it bored him, you know, to walk to and fro, he reversed it and walked fro and to!” The writer apparently thought people could learn a lesson from the bear, for these creatures seem to be quite happy as long as they have enough food to eat and a few of their own kind around them.
While appearing on a panel with other bereaved parents, I was surprised at how much I learned by listening. We were there to help a group of chaplains minister to the grieving, but we ended up learning from one another.
For centuries, people in many countries have held harvest festivals to celebrate the bounty of the land and the blessings of life. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln established a national holiday in the United States as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”
We leave fingerprints on doorknobs, on books, on walls, on keyboards. Each person’s fingerprints are unique, so we leave our identity on everything we touch. Some supermarkets are even testing a technology that allows customers to pay by fingerprint. Each customer’s unique print and bank account number are kept on file so that the only thing needed to pay a bill is a scan of their finger.