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Article Archive >> Community

Points to Ponder: Are You an Old Rooster During the Holidays?

Points to Ponder
Are You an Old Rooster During the Holidays?
By Pastor Dennis Whitmore

As a boy growing up in South Baltimore, a well-known figure in our neighborhood was "Rooster". That's the only name we knew; and he responded to it. Was that nickname his idea or someone else's, I will never know. Rooster was a small framed, aged-looking man. The elements of weather, time, and regular doses of alcohol gave him a worn kind of appearance. He had no teeth, sported a week's worth of whiskers that never were shaved clean nor grew out. His clothing was layers of ragged garments, with a knit hat over his gray hair. He chewed tobacco, and pushed around a grocery cart, collecting things from trash piles and the discards lying about in folk's back yards.
Dad and other adults would greet him if he didn't do it first. Often he did, for Rooster was a friendly fellow. Always a big toothless smile and a limp wave, "Hey...Buddy!" Everyone was "Buddy" to him. Was he homeless? Was he a lonesome drunk whose family had discarded him? Who knew? He was just there, hauling bottles and things in his cart, chewing tobacco, and saying "Hey Buddy!" with a friendly wave to whomever crossed his path. Always alone.
One day, someone reported that Rooster was found dead. He'd died, apparently of natural causes, alone in his little tenement. Among his few belongings was found a large amount of money. There was old Rooster, all those years, collecting bottles, wearing rags, and hording his wealth. He had the means to live better and healthier. He had so much, yet he lived and carried himself, and perhaps esteemed himself, as someone who had nothing. Rooster illustrates to me some people I know; maybe even some of you.
This holiday season brings as much pain with it as it does pleasure. It is a time of family and friends and traditions that warm our hearts. At the same time, it brings back memories to many of us of things, which no longer are; times gone by, and people who have left our lives by death or circumstances of life. It goes by so quickly for those who are having fun, and it cannot go by fast enough for those who are suffering through it.
Ponder this: it is not the holiday that is either lifting you or your spirits or stressing you out. It is the same event that comes around on the calendar, year by year. How you receive it and perceive it is what makes it delightful or depressing.
Yes there are some of us who have lost one or more loved ones. Some of those losses occurred at this time of year. So for you, it is "marked". You've turned it into the annual season of sackcloth and ashes.
Others had a marriage fail; the family is broken and divided. For some, it is the time of year when the dysfunctional aspects of your family manifest themselves most. For still others, health concerns have dampened the mood. This may be the last around for someone you love (or may be that someone is you).
Old Rooster came to my mind as I reflected on these things. Some of you (or someone you know) are like him. You have a stash of blessings hidden away while you go about your life wearing layers of rags as you pass the time picking through trash.
The rags are your mopey, sour attitude; the self-pity suit that you tend to wear when the chance of possibly enjoying yourself comes dangerously close. The trash you pick through is the replay of what you don't have and anything that's wrong with the world and everyone in it. Some immerse themselves in trash. The television is always on, or you read stuff that draws you into the make believe world of people who do not exist, so that you can avoid the real people in the world who do.
Is this reflection making you uncomfortable - may be even angry? "Well, you just don't understand my situation", you say. That is true. But here's what I do understand: your blessings outnumber your losses.
Like Rooster, some folks bury their stash of blessings and go to their death having never enjoyed investing them into their lives; those good things, those loving relationships or the potential of their own circumstances for good. Easier said than done? Yes. Impossible? No.
God told Abraham and Sarah that though they were very old they would have a son. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14a). To the teenage virgin named Mary, the angel said she would give birth to the Son of God. How? "For with God nothing will be impossible." (Luke 1:37) The key to bridging that gap from mourning all that is not, to the wider space of all that is, is your relationship with God. Peace, joy, contentment in the midst of tough circumstances dwell most fully in a heart that is centered in the Lord. From an awful prison cell, Paul writes: "Rejoice in the Lord always! ... Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds (how you feel and how you think) through Christ Jesus." (Philippines 4:4a, 6-7 NKJV)
In everything, through Christ. The joy of salvation and knowing your ultimate destination helps widen your perspective on the relative brevity of your current trial. No, you can not honestly rejoice in the trial; but if you will intentionally rejoice in the Lord, the trials will become a trail. And He will guide you through it.
10'Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.

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