"When you are dead, you are dead a long time." was my father's only words to me after hearing about the stupid thing I had done. I'm sure he wanted to say more but chose not to.
That day on the farm I was a teenage boy working in the field with our LA Case, a strong 4-5 bottom-plow tractor. As evening neared, rather foolishly, I chose to go home through the ditch instead of going back to the driveway. From the bottom of the ditch the tractor jerked as it started up the steep incline. The climb was too much and it suddenly began to lift the front wheels off the ground. The tractor reared up so quickly that I fell to the ground. Then I watched in utter dismay as this powerful tractor killed its motor standing straight up just over me. I slowly crawled out from under it and walked home, in awe at what happened and mostly, that I was still alive.
In a cartoon by Jeff Larson, a drop of water, representing our life on earth, is falling in to a bucket of water marked eternity. The point is to live your life aware of the fact that your time on earth is extremely short compared to eternity. Our time of life actually is totally insignificant compared to the billions of years with forever to go that eternity represents, and yet everything depends on what choices or seeds we sow in this realm.
However, eternity isn't just duration, but rather a quality of life, thanks to God sending and revealing Jesus. "This is eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God, and the One whom He sent." (John 17:3) Christmas clearly shows that the Heart of God is to reveal Himself to man and make a way for us to enjoy Him forever. Jesus came to earth and manifested the very nature and greatness of God, so we could know Him.
We come to know Him by accepting who He is and what He has done. It pleased the Father to provide an innocent, perfect sacrifice to pay for all of man's failures. Jesus rose from the dead and demonstrated his complete victory over sin and death. We can live because He lives. And finally, God sends the Holy Spirit to personally reveal Jesus to all who come to Him and desire to walk with Him.
Peace on earth, good will toward men. In a quiet, powerful way the little baby born in Bethlehem sends an eternal message that God longs for us to be with Him and He is willing to go to any and all costs to make it possible. The starting point is realizing that we need His shed blood and sacrifice to cover our wrong choices, and secondly, that trusting His love enough to invite Him to rule over us, we submit to Him as "Lord" forever.
The Christmas carols tell of the quiet and peaceful night. Those who reponded, who came to adore Him, experienced the peace and quiet of God's glory. Today He asks you to simply "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) and to receive His incredible gift of peace and quiet in your inner man. Life is much more than these 70 or 80 years on the earth; it really does last, as Dad said, "a long time." So the most important and critical choice you will ever make is to let Jesus change your eternal destiny. Come, taste and see that He is good. With a grateful and sincere heart, declare "Jesus, I come to you believing you paid for my sins and I am unashamed to say, Jesus, you are my Lord."
You have just received the gift that Jesus brought for all men at that first Christmas.