“I don’t suppose the tow truck driver will give me a ride home too?” Jolene suggested as she talked with the auto shop about towing in her pick-up truck.
“No? Doesn’t matter. I’ll just ride my bike back,” Jolene chirped to the shop’s office manager, “It will be good for me!”
“Okay. If you say so.“
“It would be pretty shameful if a senior woman my age couldn’t make it the distance across our little town .”
“Uh-huh. Hmmm. And you’re how old? Sorry. We’re not supposed to ask women their age.”
At the shop, Jolene slung a leg over her bike and headed out. She thought of the great adventures in American history as she peddled up and down the hills: Lewis and Clark’s two-year journey of exploration– without bicycles. Johnny Appleseed’s trek through the mid-west – on foot without a dirt bike. Her own pioneer ancestors’ travels to the Pacific Coast – without two-wheelers.
No matter I haven’t ridden for a few years. This will be a piece of cake!
But it wasn’t. The north wind blew in her face. The traffic was heavy. No one stopped to pick her up, which often happens in a small town full of pick-up trucks.
Jolene focused on the beacon at the top of the next hill: Artie’s, a fast food eatery. It sparkled like a lighthouse in the sun. Besides, Artie’s advertised a pumpkin spice cheesecake shake this season. The praises included it promised to rejuvenate, energize and satisfy through New Years! And that was only one part of the meal deal!
Jolene was gasping for air as she pushed the bike up the steep slope to the parking lot. She stumbled in the door and nearly fell on her face with exhaustion. She held her hand over her chest as she collapsed against the door frame.
“Should we call 9-1-1?” asked a worried staff member.
“No, just an order for a pumpkin spice cheesecake shake and meal deal,” she choked out.
After a fresh and crisp sandwich, curly fries, and shake, Jolene pedaled downhill, whistling in the chilly breeze. That’s when her gym partner, Lee, pulled up beside her, giving her two thumbs up and mouthing through the closed truck window, “Way to go!”
What he saw was she was burning off calories, improving her cardio, as well as fighting senior aches and pains with a bicycle ride!
But appearances can be deceiving! He knew nothing about the fries and the shake. She certainly wasn’t going to tell him. Even her trip across town wouldn’t have burned off those carbs!
When it comes to Christmas, looks can be deceiving, too. Lights. Ribbons. Shine. Twinkle. Santa Claus. Cards. Bell Ringers.
None of it aligns with the real Christmas. Because the King of Kings, Redeemer of all mankind, the Savior of the world, came in humble and impoverished packaging. Songs and readings sometimes make the stable where he was born too clean. Why, some would consider it shabby chic décor! But it was a home and shelter for work animals. Such a stall would have to be mucked out and new straw scattered inside as often as any today.
Perhaps God chose the setting and circumstances to prove how everything is possible with him and it is for all people. The shepherds heard the news first. How could this be? They were considered unclean low life in Jesus’ day. But God counted them worthy to see his son, Jesus. How can a boy born in a stable grow strong in body, spirit and character who leads people then to now to accept him and his priceless gift of forgiveness? With God. He was called Immanuel! God with us! This child born of a virgin whose birth was prophesied generations and centuries earlier.
From the book of Luke came the beginning of miracles: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” [Luke 2:8-14]
When it comes to appearances, the venue around the arrival of King Jesus, Son of God, seemed deceiving. But make no mistake: his message is for all people. His gift is offered to all.
And that has more sustaining power and rejuvenation than the promises of a pumpkin spice cheesecake shake!
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]