This Christmas is different, but still joyful

A young boy who attends Calvary Chapel Westwood was having difficulty solving a Rubik’s Cube. My husband, Terry, who is the pastor, said to him, “I will give you a problem I think you can solve.” Using his hands to measure space, he said “If God is over here and mankind is here, how do we bridge the separation and come into His presence?”

I repeat this story because it captures the essence of Christmas: God reaching down to us to provide a way to restore a relationship broken by sin. Jesus is the answer to this problem posed by my husband. As an adult, He told crowds, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

I walked into the presence of God in 1983 at a Billy Graham Crusade in Sacramento as a choir sang “Just as I Am.” It was the hymn Graham used during the invitation to leave your seat and come forward to make a decision for Christ. There was nothing to do but come to Jesus just as I was, a flawed human being, and accept His free gift of salvation. This was all possible because one night, Jesus was born. The Israelites would know that it was impossible to follow the Law required to stand in the presence of a Holy God, and the animal sacrifices were never ending, only covering sin and never removing it … until Jesus.

The Billy Graham Association encourages people to attend a Bible teaching church, and Terry and I chose Warehouse Christian Ministries, a Calvary Chapel affiliate. This church provided a solid foundation of God’s Word which reveals what God is like and how we can expect Him to act toward us. Also, it reveals who we are in Christ.

The importance of this personal relationship with Jesus, as well as a solid foundation, became very apparent to me several weeks ago when I learned I had Large B-Cell Lymphoma. What I learned long ago that sustains me now is that eternal life is not in the hereafter but in the present. (John 17:3) It is a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit … and this is what you have when you place your faith in Jesus Christ. This happened to me 36 years ago, but all have had the opportunity for more than 2,000 years because there was born one day in the city of David a Savior. (Luke 2:11)

I have to step away from my usual routine for a few months while undergoing chemotherapy due to a compromised immune system. That means I can’t go out into the community to take photos and gather information for newspaper articles, although I will be writing articles I can complete from home. People often take pity on me for having to attend “boring meetings,” but I do not have the same point of view. I find the operations of water and sewer districts, fire departments and school districts interesting. I like to look for the stories within stories; to interview new teachers, heads of departments, those selected for honor or who have worked to achieve a goal.

This Christmas is different, but I will celebrate with a joyful heart for it’s a joy that cannot be taken by cancer or chemo or life changes. I know why the wisemen traveled far to worship Him; why the shepherds came with haste to find the Babe lying in a manger; and why angels from heaven appeared to praise God.