Christmas means different things to different people---different memories and different wishes. Yesterday, we took part in a Ventura Christmas tradition---the parade of lights at the Ventura Harbor. It is neat to see a parade of boats, with different kinds of lights and scenes. The festivities start with Santa and his reindeer flying overhead (powered by a helicopter) and then ends with fireworks. The pictures below are from the parade.
Today at church was our choir's Christmas cantata---another Christmas tradition that I enjoy. However, I was challenged by someone preceding our Christmas cantata. Gary teaches a singles class in our church. There are two very faithful young people who are there nearly every week---Jake and Erin. Jake is a 24-year old fun loving guy who plays the drums in our worship band. He reminds me alot of my brother Aaron. Jake was not in church this morning, so Erin called him 5 minutes after church had started---"Where are you?" He said he was sleeping and then hung up on her. Erin proceeded to tell us about Jake's miserable week. Jake had a friend die in Iraq last week. This week, he lost his job and had two car accidents within three days of each other (he drives alot for his work).
Shortly after Erin finished telling us about Jake's awful week, Jake walked in. As we took prayer requests and talked about how God was working in our lives, Jake gave us the details of his second accident. Jake said that as he was driving down the Conejo pass, a rather rude driver passed on the left shoulder of the road and then drove up on and over his car. Jake was very mad, as one might expect. The guy then just drove away from the scene. Jake got on his phone and called the police. He then followed the guy and got off at the next exit. Before he got out of his car and approached the guy, whom he wanted to punch out, he asked the Lord to change his attitude and help him. It was amazing to watch how the Lord took what could have been and was, a terrible situtation and worked to turn it into something more----for Jake and this man. Yes, Jake ruined his father's car (never a good thing), hurt his own body, and had to take the time to fill out police reports; however, God gave Jake the opportunity to witness to a troubled middle-aged man. Jake said the guy has talked to him a couple times since the accident, and Jake had invited him to our church that morning. We prayed for God to work in that man's life.
As class ended, I was challenged by Jake's trust in Christ to change his attitude during a very tense moment on the road, and to help Jake portray that "there was something different" about this 24-year old Christian young adult. The story does not end there, however.
As the lights went out in the audience, and the choir started to sing their opening song, I was brought to tears, as I saw Jake walk in with a middle-aged man. I turned to Gary and said, "I have never seen a person have a car accident and then bring the other person to church the following Sunday." Praise God for using people, even crazy 24 year old drummers like Jake, to bring the Christmas message to the lost world.
So, whatever the Christmas season holds for you----the good, the bad, and the ugly----never forget that we are all able to be used by God in different people's lives every day.