Monday, December 19, 2016

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Original artwork by Melinda Jensen

2016 has been a tough year, both here in Australia and throughout the globe. Wars and the inevitable atrocities that accompany them, are escalating. Americans too, must be feeling the winds of change acutely – some distressed by the presidential election results and others by the conflict and worldwide criticism that have ensued in the wake of their political choice. It's a situation that leaves the global community divided and fearful.

Only one thing seems certain. Emotions are high. We all tend to become further entrenched in our positions during times of high stress, desperate to either flee or fight. Fear becomes our sole motivation. Yet, at times of great turmoil it's both far more important and far more difficult to hold tight to God and follow His lead.

I have heard many stories of woe and heartache during the past year, clothed in robes of bitterness, anger, sorrow and fear. People are turning on each other, unashamedly claiming to not care about what happens to others beyond their shores, or even their own neighbourhoods. I was shocked to learn that some of my overseas friends feel this way about Australia, and therefore me and mine. Disturbingly, I have heard the harshest judgements from fellow Christians who seem to feel more than justified in turning away the needy and allowing the less fortunate to go hungry and homeless. I can only wonder at how much this grieves the Father's heart.

Enchanted by (or is it morbidly fascinated with) Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' since I was a child, I find myself ruminating about its metaphors and wondering if the world is currently 'stuck', like the bah-humbug Ebenezer Scrooge before he meets the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

How would most of us fare if visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the first eerie visitor to Scrooge's miserly hearth right before Christmas?

This angelic spirit, as I prefer to think of it, shows Scrooge scenes from his past that occurred around Christmas-time, to demonstrate the necessity of changing his ways, as well as to show the reader how Scrooge came to be so bitter and cold-hearted. The lesson here, of course, is that none of us are born this way. Life is often cruel, just as it was for the young Ebenezer, who grew up, devoid of real love in a miserable boarding school, abandoned by his father.

As the years went by, he faced many hardships of the kind almost bound to break his heart and alienate him from his fellow human beings. And yet, life is not all about circumstance.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles


As I've entered my fifties I've realized that very few people live a charmed life, and most of us have stories of heartache that helped shape who we are. When I look around me I see those who have grown through these experiences into more compassionate and aware human beings; and of course, I see those who've hardened their hearts, determined to look out for number one and only number one.

There is always the element of choice. The ghost of Christmas past doesn't linger on a sense of blame, despite relentlessly bringing painful scenes before the hapless Scrooge. Instead, he largely allows Scrooge to relive the painful memories he's so successfully snuffed out over the years. Without bringing those memories to the fore, none of us can hope to understand why we are the way we are; nor are we able to effect personal change and lay to rest any attitudes of resentment, fear and bitterness, the very attributes that are running rampant on today's world stage.

As Christians, we don't need to believe in, or encounter, ghosts. We have our very own, accessible and willing, supernatural God, ready to lead us gently on a tour of our painful pasts and re-establish His heart within us. That heart knows no bounds when it comes to compassion, empathy, generosity, kindness and acceptance. It is tireless in taking in the world's orphans and widows, the wounded and homeless, the desperate and starving, the lonely and heartbroken. He gives no heed to the colour of our skin or what part of the world we come from, but he does care what he finds deep in our hearts. Let's not disappoint Him in the coming year. Let's pray for a world-wide epiphany, a global 'Ebenezer Scrooge aha! Moment.'

by Melinda Jensen

Melinda follows Jesus as closely as she can, learning every day. Passionate about social justice, equality, the environment and mostly, discerning and activating her purpose according to who she is in Christ. She has had a humble number of short stories and poems published, in print and on the web; and is working on a couple of short stories for young people. She kids herself she might one day be able to do her own illustrations.







12 comments:

  1. Thanks Melinda,
    I found that very challenging, and most appropriate for this week. You're quite right, we can let God do the same work in our hearts which was the role of the ghosts in A Christmas Carol. I love the analogy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a lot of us find it challenging for many different reasons. My biggest downfall is in finding compassion for those who can't find compassion for the less fortunate. I struggle with how to deal with them...just another lesson in my life. :) Thank you for sharing your feedback.

      Delete
  2. Thanks, Melinda. There is truth in your words. Hurt people, hurt people. It's a simple fact. May the Lord open all our eyes to see where we are lacking in love and bring his healing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thank you for taking the time to read my words and to add your heartfelt prayer for global healing.

      Delete
  3. Thanks Melinda - beautifully expressed. When we experience God's great love for us - that He knows us by name & loves us specifically - and realise that His love extends to every individual that ever lived - how can we be a Scrooge when it comes to the sufferings of others?
    BTW love your artwork & I can see your dream of illustrating your stories becoming a reality :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, without God's love, patience, and the work He's done in my life, who knows how materialistic and mean-spirited I might have become? It really is the greatest gift one can have.

      And thanks so much for your encouragement of my dreams!!! Glowing here. :)

      Delete
  4. Thank you, Melinda, for this great reminder to look into hour hearts at this time of the year in particular and allow God to mould our responses to life's challenges.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a lovely way to express it - to allow God to mould our responses to life's challenges. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback.

      Delete
  5. Thanks Melinda, I just recently reposted a video showing shocking footage from Aleppo. It's hard to ignore, and then if we allow our imagination to follow through, these broken hurting and now homeless people will be added to the already huge numbers of refugees seeking a place to be safe. The challenge is before all Christians. We have to look out side ourselves. Thanks for your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thank you for your thoughts also, Meredith. I'm going to have a look at your video, knowing I will find it distressing but we simply cannot turn away from the truth. I was quite upset this week to find that one of my extended family members posted a video on facebook claiming that what is happening in Aleppo is just a hoax. I can't wrap my head around that and have struggled with how to respond. A blessed Christmas to you and yours.

      Delete
  6. And to all my beautiful friends in Christian Writers Downunder, whether or not I have met you in person, you have added richly to my life this year. For all your encouragement, challenges and hearty laughs, I thank you. And may you all have a safe, peaceful and very blessed Christmas!!! xo

    ReplyDelete