Journey to Bethlehem: December 21 - Word&Way

Journey to Bethlehem: December 21

Appreciating Benefits Not of Our Own Making

Today's Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-12

Terry Dale Cruse

Roger Hatfield is executive director of Future Leadership Foundation.

We walked from the car in the dark of night up to the clapboard house. My Mennonite friend waited in the car as if knowing what was coming. The man and his father who beckoned me to follow took me to a mother. Nine children — count them, nine, all under age 8 or 9 but no babies — were in the house. Where did they all come from? Whose were they? The house had barren walls, no furniture to speak of, no toys visible, no TVs, no games, no videos to be seen under a single ceiling light. Living four hours from a McDonald’s they could not afford to visit and thousands of miles from any Walmart.

I have thought a lot about that evening that had followed a great pizza-and-salad supper in a warm and delightful place with good friends. Seeing children in such stark poverty in contrast to my iPhone and iPad caused me to stop, even recoil. What did God want me to see and hear that September evening so far away from the comforts of my home?

My Hebrew cousins in Deuteronomy 6.4-12 were reminded as they prepared to go into the Promised Land that they, too, would face blessings not of their own making. They did not make the cities they were going to live in and did not develop the resources of the land they would enjoy. They would be tempted to forget God had and would continue to provide all they needed.

During this Advent season in anticipation of the Christ Child’s entry into the world, God says, “Watch yourself. Don’t forget whose you are and how you got where you are” (Deuteronomy 6.12).

I get it. Hopefully, you do as well.