‘The spirits did it all in one night’

happy scroogeEvery Christmas, we enjoy two or three versions of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Whether it’s Albert Finney, Patrick Stewart, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, or the local community theater actor who performs it every year, it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s always an inspiring story of transformation wrought by visitations of the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future—a transformation I think we all desire in some form in our lives. At one point Scrooge wants to know why all three ghosts can’t visit him all at once and get it over with. I would gladly take them one at a time if I could experience as thorough of a transformation as Ebenezer makes in one night. I wish it were that easy.

Realistically, our transformations are much more gradual. We need to learn to be more patient with the process.

The hardest part of change for me is the fact that I have to do it. I would much rather have it happen to me — to wake up, as Scrooge did, and find myself changed.

If you don’t mind my sticking with the story, I think I might be able to solve my own problem. In the story, Scrooge gained a new vision of himself—a new idea of who he could be, and, indeed, wanted to be, and it was this that moved him to action. Giving to the poor, buying his clerk a goose and raising his salary, attending his nephew’s Christmas feast, and seeing to it that Tiny Tim got the treatment he needed — Scrooge did all this and more, but these new behaviors sprang from a changed heart and a new idea about himself that compelled him to make them happen. He had a second chance at life – a chance to do it right this time – to make amends for his stingy, miserly, selfish self. He had a new vision for himself as a generous, happy, engaging contributor to the life around him.

You and I need to find out what, in the name of Christ, is big enough to move us forward and overcome our own barriers to change. It may be our spiritual gift; it may be forgiveness; it may be our new identity in Christ, it may be a missionary call… whatever it is, real transformation isn’t going to happen until we are in its grip. For Christ, it was “the joy set before him” that compelled him to endure the cross and its shame (Hebrews 12:2).

The New Year waits before us as a blank page – our own tabula rasa. What will you set before you that will compel you to change and act on that change?

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3 Responses to ‘The spirits did it all in one night’

  1. There once lived a farmer who became jaded about Christmas and all things “Christian.”

    Late one raw winter night, he sat alone in the house, reading. In the quiet he heard an irregular thumping against the back porch door. He flipped on the light. To his surprise, the birds that had made their nests in a nearby tree were flying against the glass, almost as if knocking to come inside. The limb on which they had built their nest had fallen under the weight of the ice. His heart went out to them.

    He pulled on his snow boots and overcoat and pushed open the storm door. Immediately the birds fluttered away. Against knee-deep snow, he made his way out to the barn. He slid open the barn door and wondered how he could get the frightened birds into its warmth and safety.

    He built a massive nest out of hay, but they wouldn’t come near. He sprinkled some crackers in a path from their tree toward the barn. But they didn’t follow. He tried to shoo them in, but they only scattered. He even lit a couple of candles inside the barn, hoping the added warmth would draw them. But to the birds, he was only something to be afraid of. He knew nothing of their language and nothing of their world.

    He thought, If there were just some way that I could become a bird. If only for a few moments I could communicate to them how much I care, I could get them into the barn and they would be safe and warm.

    At that moment, as only God would plan it, church bells began to ring in the distance. The farmer suddenly remembered, as he looked at his watch and checked the date, that it was Christmas morning.

    At that moment, he grasped the true meaning of Christmas. A man becoming a bird is nothing to be compared to God’s becoming a man. This was what the Savior did—He came to rescue the farmer himself and all humanity from the cold of sin. There in the deep snow on the back porch he fell to his knees, softened his heart, and returned to the Lord his God.

    From Chuck Swindoll’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
    http://www.insight.org/resources/devotionals/i-heard-the-bells.html

  2. There are a lot of stories that show immediate transformation like Scrooge. We also have the Grinch, what a wonderful life and a sad story that has always stuck out to me was about the believing boy and the cold hearted doctor! http://www.jesusisonthe.net/storytime/a_little_boy.htm

    But back to reality,transformation happens of the course of time and in our own pace. It is sort of like going to a class that allows you to learn this way, no rush, no worry on the Instructors part as he works with growing you 😀 However, sometimes you run into folks who want to rush the Masters growth in you and when they don’t see a ‘sudden’ transformation abandon you. Thank God, that He doesn’t abandon us when we fail others in their expectations! Great post John and Happy New Year to you and your family 🙂

  3. Peter Leenheer says:

    Since Christ has done his work, I believe my job is prohet, priest and king. Actually I believe God is working through all of us this way. Since the blood of Jesus has made me a new human being, as priest I have become a person who prays for God’s Kingdom and his leaders, as king I have Christ’s authority that he regained with atoning work…it enables me to send Satan packing, and as prophet I have a relationship with him where he tells me things about all sorts of things. I have become and am ever getting better at being a prayer warrior who uses the spiritual weapons to pray God’s promises into being, and so aid in the restoration of God’s kingdom.

    That didn’t cover all the bases but people have written books about this very type of transformation that Scrooge had. Wherever I go that change in me shows. It has effect in the children and youth of my church where I serve, and in my vocation of landscape maintenance. It seems to me all transformation leads us to many things but the main thing is prayer for God’s Kingdom. Our grocery prayer list God has promised to give us if we seek the kingdom of God first.
    So that is how I have changed from a procrastinator, womanizer, resentful, arrogant, hard drinking hard party animal, in one word a sinner. While some of that still lingers in me it is not the dominant force it used to be. The change from this negative life is now filled with unconditional love, not a wishy washy love, but one that tries to walk in other people’s shoes for there by the grace of God go I. Never do i want to forget where God took me from and brought me into his rest.

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