15 Dec 2000

The Shadow of Hope

Submitted by theshovel
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Though Christmas has become mostly commercialized there remains a shadow of true hope lurking beneath the surface, even amongst those who overlook the first six letters of the word. There is a deep longing in the world around us and it comes to the surface a little more during this time of year. But I think most of us have learned to tune it out because we're too distracted by form. We're so busy trying to convince the world that "Jesus is the reason for the season" that we usually don't hear the cry of the heart that is desperately searching for deliverance - especially when it's our own.

The cry might sound like this:

Christmas Eve ... the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be. It's a miracle ... and if you waste that miracle you're gonna burn for it. ... If you give ... if you believe ... the miracle will happen to you. ... it can happen every day, you just gotta want that feeling. And if you live it and you want it you'll get greedy for it. You'll want it every day of your life. And it can happen to you.
-excerpt from the movie, Scrooged, with Bill Murray as Frank Cross

It's easy to pass stuff like this off as seasonal babble made to sell a movie, isn't it? But the fact is that it touches hearts for a reason, and that reason seems more real than what we're usually prepared to offer - or to hear. If we were to listen, to really listen, we might hear the utter disappointment of a world that somehow knows humanity was destined for something magnificent, something far greater than anything that has ever been experienced. To be "the people that we always HOPED we would be"! Somehow, even the short-lived season of niceness hinted at on Christmas Eve can be enough to satisfy the desperate hope that IT CAN REALLY HAPPEN. And we have tried ... and have tried ... and have tried ..."

And with all our trying the disappointment just won't go away - even when we try to infuse it with the real meaning of Christmas. Maybe that's because the real meaning of Christmas is more than a nice story, more than a feeling, more than a doctrine, more than a celebration, or more than any or all of the above put together! What if it was more than the shadow of hope - that desperate, UNFULFILLED desire of being the people we always hoped we would be?

If the real meaning of Christmas is Jesus, then WHO and/or WHAT is Jesus? A textbook answer that sounds TO YOU like a doctrine to be defended will never do (Nor will a simple feel good answer). I'm not suggesting that the true meaning cannot be expressed with words, for it has been many times. But the words are only an EXPRESSION of the reality and not a REPLACEMENT of that reality, which means that just because you got the words down in an accurate, doctrinal form may have no relation to the understanding behind those words.

Jesus is the UNION of God and man, He is the joining of the Creator with His creation, He is the Word made flesh. Though He is, in fact, the Son of God He preferred calling Himself the Son of man. When Mary gave birth to that little baby a new thing had happened. He came to bring the new creation to pass IN HIMSELF. He is the real man, He is the magnificence that we had only dreamed of. He gave meaning to the empty shell by bringing the life of God into it.

And yet, we have turned Him into something that He is not. With all our proper doctrine we still project Jesus as an icon of the SEPARATION between God and man instead of being the reality of the UNION between them. We somehow look at Him and see our unworthiness instead of being blown away by the fact that HE IS our worthiness! We live defeated lives because we hold Jesus as being a divine example instead of being our divine life. We are STILL wishing we could possibly be like Jesus instead of realizing that He came for the very purpose to make us the righteousness of God - and He DID it.

Here is some homework for you: Take the above quote from the Scrooged movie and change a few words and see if it doesn't sound more like the gospel messages you have heard - or maybe even preached - most of your life. Yeah, we're still talking AS IF it CAN happen ... instead of the fact that IN CHRIST it already HAS.

Until next time .....
scoopfully yours,
the shovel (aka Jim)

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Comments

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These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: December 16, 2000 by Becki

Good word Jim.
And you're still number one on Rob's links-- by exactly 100 points!


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Mike

Hi Jim - Great Shovel letter! Heard a great message this morning that included references to these passages. Note that the name the Father has for himself in Jeremiah 23:6 is "The LORD Our Righteousness." Now that of course is wonderfully cool in and of itself. But look at the name the Father has for us in Jeremiah 33:16 "In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it (we) will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness." So much for the "we're all a bunch of miserable, wretched, sinners" bunch. Catch ya later alligator! (and hey....have some mercy on us poor, frigid folk, shivering, and scraping ice, and shoveling snow up here, will ya??!) Blessings bud!


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Natalie

Dearest Jim, You know I always respond to your shoveletter. I've been a bit out of sorts for some time. It has been worse than ever this week. I thought about why I am allowing stress to rob me of Truth. I am not sure why. Your shoveletter just about made me cry. As I was reading it I felt desperate. Desperate to get back that which I already have. It is so difficult when you stand in the netherworld gazing at the heavens where you know you belong.. Actually it is more like a feeling hologram of the netherworld I guess and if I just turned off the feelings I'd see I am still in heaven. love you. Natalie

~~~~~|||||) Hello Natalie, my sweet sister!! «It is so difficult when you stand in the netherworld gazing at the heavens where you know you belong.» It is an incredible tension that He has put us into, isn't it? But it is this same tension that DEMANDS to you and to me that we really are from somewhere else. And this is the stuff of HOPE. Though we often try to find our meaning in the things of this world we really know inwardly that there is no other true life but Christ in us. Now, what's this about my shoveletter only ALMOST making you cry? Hey, I want full-blown tears!!!! Love, Jim (|||||~~~~~

Then work harder on the next shoveletter. :) love, me


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Jake

Jim, You really out did yourself on this one. It was great reading! I loved it! ... and so did my freind. See his comments below ... Keep shoveling my friend! Peace and Merry Christmas to you! Perry Note: forwarded message attached.

I really like this. You know; I also really like the "son of man" name. It does speak to me, especially when considering Christ himself "preferred" the name. Think about that, and the context. I like that. Your forward has made it 'begin to look' a bit more 'like Christmas' in my own personal world today. Big bro love to you, my friend


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Jeff

Jim, That last shoveletter you sent out was really good.... Talk to ya lata,


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Steve R

Shalom, Jim and Becky.... how are you? I loved the December "shoveletter"! I have forwarded to many unsaved friends, and kept reading it "through their eyes". I am writing to request something from you. (If we were in a piano bar, I'd drop a buck into your collection glass!). "Hey, Jim, hey Jim, can I have a request?? Anyway, if you could walk "us" through the changing of the words of the movie script... to point out exactly where the "old gospel" lies (no pun intended). Maybe on January's shoveletter? You see, I've been sending the same dozen folks similar messages........ I get NO response at all. Sometimes one will send a "thanks for writing". I also often write: "if you want these messages to stop, just say the word." No body ever does...... so I have HOPE! I REALLY like to forward someone else's though! (The strength of third party testimonials... or something). Anyway, thanks for the letter(s), thanks for your obedience to His Word, thanks in advance for any input and: HAVE A MOST BLESSED CHRISTMAS!!!! With love In Christ,


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Ed K

I just wanted to drop a note to say "thanks" for publishing the Shoveletter. I am a 41-year-old "baby" Christian and have thoroughly enjoyed and greatly appreciated your simple, easy-to-understand messages. It's remarkable how abundantly the Holy Spirit is flowing into and out of you. I am so happy that my friend, Mike Nagle, referred me to your web site. I pray that the Lord continues to bless you as He has. May your holidays and new year be filled with much love, grace, joy, hope, and health.


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Margo B

Hi Jim,

I wanted to comment on your Christmas Shoveletter and to add an anecdote of my own. The letter was beautifully written and so,so true. I think you should send it to your local newspaper! Personally, I'm going to copy it and send it to a few people, including our wonderful friends who know Christ AS their life, in Connecticut. I know they will appreciate it as much as we did.

This quote from your letter applies to what I have to share:

«"Though Christmas has become mostly commercialized there remains a shadow of true hope lurking beneath the surface, even amongst those who overlook the first six letters of the word. There is a deep longing in the world around us and it comes to the surface a little more during this time of year. But I think most of us have learned to tune it out because we're too distracted by form. We're so busy trying to convince the world that "Jesus is the reason for the season" that we usually don't hear the cry of the heart that is desperately searching for deliverance - especially when it's our own."»

Yesterday, I had to take my daughter Laura to a competitive swim meet in a city a little over an hour away. On our way back, we stopped at a shopping mall because Richard wanted me to find a special kind of ergonomically-designed snow shovel, all of which were sold out here in Stratford. I went into a Wall Mart and slowly navigated my way through hordes and hordes of Christmas shoppers to the very back of the store, where Lo and Behold! there was the snow shovel Richard wanted in all its glory - the very last one left!!! (Who says there isn't a God in Heaven?) I quickly snatched up the shovel, dreading the exceedingly long and winding road ahead of me to the cash registers. People were frustrated, impatient, cross, kids were crying, shopping cart traffic jams...I had to carry my precious shovel above my head in order to wind my treacherous way through the crowds. When I finally reached the cash registers - their lights were like beacons to me - I found to my own impatient dismay that there were dozens of disgruntled shoppers ahead of me in each lane. There was nothing to do but wait, because I was in the 'candy lane' and there were no magazines to read to pass the time, and I heard that Wall Mart doesn't like it if you just walk out with their merchandise. All around me was discord, griping, complaining; one shopper returned with his son and was all but accusing the female cashier of stealing a bag he had inadvertently left behind. All of a sudden, something caused me to tune my ear away from the cacophony of noise and temper...because unheard amidst the noise, in the distance and far away, as it seemed, was this beautiful melody being broadcast over the store's intercom...a solitary flute playing "Away In a Manger". How long it had been playing, I don't know, because I had tuned it out. This incredibly simple, beautiful message of a baby born in a manger, in the midst of a hustling, bustling, un-seeing, un-hearing world...and here I was in the midst of thousands of shoppers desperately seeking that special Christmas gift that would magically fulfill whatever yearning was in their hearts, while all the time what they really longed for was right there in their midst. I'll never forget that moment; I wonder if anyone else besides me (and only by His grace did I tune in) actually 'heard' what I felt that our Heavenly Father was trying to say in that crowded store to all those harried people.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas,

Your friend, Margo Broadbent

~~~~~|||||) Margi, thank you so much for that input. What a cool illustration of what I was writing about! If it is okay with you I will include it in the responses of that Shoveletter. hmmm? :) Give Rick a hug for me! I'm sorry he's so whipped with all the Christmas business. I really can relate. Love, Jim (|||||~~~~~

Hi Jim,

I would be honoured to be included in the responses of the Christmas Shoveletter. You know, Richard brought this to my attention after I'd emailed you about my shovel-escapade at Wal-Mart. He said I must be so, so spiritual to be writing ABOUT a shovel to YOU, the SHOVELMASTER!!! I guess I AM so spiritual, I didn't even realize it at the time. Therefore, I have an addendum to add to your slogan with which you begin all the Shoveletters:

"If freedom is worth digging for,
Then shovels are worth shopping for."

:)

Your friend, Margo


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Bill K

A friend sent your Web and I thought it most unique - which perhaps means we're both in trouble. It's a great joy getting rid of the "baggage" and understanding the great love that Jesus CHOOSES for us...I'm "preaching" to the choir but just wanted you to know your way of expressing God's Word is unique (no offense, but I think you got it from HIM) and it's great to rest in him....THANKS...if you get to Atlanta please let us know!!!!


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Chris B

Jim,

I am off to a holiday party tonight but I stopped to read your shovel-letter and the condensed version in "Random Thought." OH MY GOSH! Jim this is wonderful! It is so simple - yet so profound. So true and incredible.

When life-circumstances are discouraging - we can take our hope and encouragement from this truth!! That we are no longer defeated because of Jesus. That we no longer need to live with feelings of frustration, depression, inadequacy, hopelessness, and despair. Because NOTHING can ever separate us from His love. We can shout this with every fiber of our being EVEN in the midst of the dark valleys of life.

This is so WAY COOL!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday -I hope the Lord continues to bless you with HIS insight and truth so that you can continue to share it with us!

Sincerely,

Your friend in FREEEEZING Wisconsin!

Chris B

«We live defeated lives because we hold Jesus as being a divine example instead of being our divine life. We are STILL wishing we could possibly be like Jesus instead of realizing that He came for the very purpose to make us the righteousness of God - and He DID it.»


Posted: December 16, 2000 by Paul

«With all our proper doctrine we still project Jesus as an icon of the SEPARATION between God and man instead of being the reality of the UNION between them. We somehow look at Him and see our unworthiness instead of being blown away by the fact that HE IS our worthiness! We live defeated lives because we hold Jesus as being a divine example instead of being our divine life.»

Awesome, powerful words of life! With your permission, I'd like to quote you in my next Grace Message. Let me know.


Posted: December 16, 2000 by the shovel

In the 12/15/00 Shoveletter I ended with this:

-----]]]] Here is some homework for you: Take the above quote from the "Scrooged" movie and change a few words and see if it doesn't sound more like the "gospel" messages you have heard - or maybe even preached - most of your life. Yeah, we're still talking AS IF it CAN happen ... instead of the fact that IN CHRIST it already HAS. [[[[-----

Someone wrote and asked if I would "walk us through the changing of the words" so I'm going to do that here. Since my background may be different from yours keep in mind that the "gospel" messages I've heard may have been worded differently than what you have heard. The beginning of the quote could be expressed a million different ways (to inspire that warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling) so I'll just leave it off.

Here is that quote:

-----]]]] "Christmas Eve ... the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be. It's a miracle ... and if you waste that miracle you're gonna burn for it. ... If you give ... if you believe ... the miracle will happen to you. ... it can happen every day, you just gotta want that feeling. And if you live it and you want it you'll get greedy for it. You'll want it every day of your life. And it can happen to you." - [excerpt from the movie, "Scrooged", with Bill Murray as Frank Cross] [[[[-----

Here's an example of what I was hinting at:

"If you waste the miracle of Christmas Eve you will burn in the flames of hell forever. The choice is up to you. If you give Him your heart, if you believe and make that decision then the miracle will happen to you. You just have to want it bad enough. And if you'll live for Jesus every day then you can have a happy and meaningful life. It can happen to you."

As I'm sure this may prompt a few questions I'll continue in this week's Shoveletter. Of course, I'm sure that after reading it many of you will have even more questions ... and I hope you send them on to me. :)

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