Joy or Not

CA Los Osos Fall 09-08As we approach Christmas, our celebration of Christ’s birth, I believe it is a time of joy, which is reflected in so many Christmas hymns and songs. Yet, for me, I have not always felt joy at this time. This year has been a struggle with a religious leader my wife and I know who has a consistently dour look on the world. To him, the world is broken and only God can fix it. Now there are problems in the world, but it is not the world that is so broken as how people treat each other and the world. God made this world and it is a place of stunning beauty, as Chuck showed us in his last post. I don’t think God is needed to fix places like that, but they are part of the world.

Still, for some reason, I have seemed to see a lot of bad things going on with people’s treatment of each other and the world, and that is sad to me. I have to believe it is sad to God, too. I quit getting the daily paper because it seemed more interested in talking about all the trivial bad things about the world, rather than covering many of the truly great things. I know that many people are doing wonderful things for each other now, but that gets less coverage than another stupid story about Tiger Woods. I get it. He was a jerk and morally broken, but Tiger Woods is not every athlete, nor is he every husband or man. Most people act nothing like him.

Then there has been all of the bickering about climate change. I know there are a lot of good intentioned people who really can’t figure out the truth from all of the misinformation out there. But climate change is not going to affect me and my generation significantly. Anything that does occur will affect my kids and their kids. Maybe climate change will be as bad as some say, maybe not, but I am unwilling to place a bet that could come out very, very bad for future generations — meaning my kids and beyond as well as every other young person. I don’t want to be remembered for giving them an inheritance of a world in worse shape than I had. Somehow, I don’t think God will be particularly happy about that, either. It’s his world we’re playing with.

Yet, this is not a time for depression. It is a time to celebrate the coming of Christ. What is our gift to God for the birthday of his Son? I want to continue to celebrate this world He has made and sing praises for it. I love the world, though of course, we have no other. But still, I love every part of it that God has made, from tiny insects to the Grand Canyon and everything in between. The wild and unruly stand of oaks here live near Los Osos, California. These trees have no “purpose” for man — they aren’t straight for lumber or anything else. Yet they have a beauty about them that speaks softly to me, “This is the world that God has made. Celebrate it in all its forms. Be joyful that you can know a special place of God’s like this.”