Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11
We were the three little ones. Mama and Daddy either by plan or accident ended up with a big family. They had five reasonably close together and then took a break before finishing up the family with three more. The three little ones consisted of two girls and one boy. I was the boy and as the baby in the family, I was the best. They called me “Precious”, because I was. Smile.
The story isn’t about that, but I love stirring the pot. The way it worked out at Christmas, the five older kids entered the world of nonbelievers long before we three. I’m sure because one of my sister-in-laws said she changed my diapers. But for the three little ones, Christmas was a magical world of believing and receiving.
On Christmas Eve night, we three were put into one bedroom. The main part of the house only had two, so it seemed logical. About 8:00 pm, Mama and Daddy would put us in the bedroom to “go to sleep” but of course that never happened. We would lie in bed, whispering and giggling. At some point, we would begin hearing strange noises coming from the living room. I remember one year my sister asked for a “chord organ.” Imagine our excitement when, as we were “asleep,” we begin to hear musical sounds coming through the thin walls. We couldn’t wait. We would holler out and tell lies. We would say, “We have to go to the bathroom.” Of course, we didn’t, but we would do anything to “sneak a peek.”
Eventually, and it varied from year to year, we would doze off to sleep. And yes, there were visions of sugar plums dancing in our head. I am sure we woke up several times throughout the night to check the clock and it was always too early. But we would know when it was time to get up. The “410” would tell us. You see my Daddy owned an old single shot 410 shotgun and every year that became our alarm clock. Daddy, or one of the old brothers, would open the backdoor of the breezeway, stick the gun out and let her go. The window where we were sleeping was right beside that door, so we had no problem hearing old Bessie when the time came. And, trust me, when the gun went off, we were up and running.
The door would fly open and we would turn right into the living room and there would be a wonderland of toys and presents. Our stockings would be stuffed to overflowing and we, well, we were amazed. As we sifted through the piles of gifts and as the piles of used wrapping paper grew taller, it was heaven—at least to the three little ones. I remember my sister-in-law, the same one that changed my diapers, took on the responsibility of going through all that paper to make sure some tiny, but important, part didn’t get accidentally thrown out.
The “410” became an heirloom in the family and I’m not sure who ended up with her. She had killed her fair share of squirrels but the most important thing, in my opinion, was that she let us know it was time for Christmas. It was time to get up. I think that is one thing I have learned through this COVID-19 hot mess. You might say it was a 410 of sorts. When it started in-mass to impact us, it sent a message loud and clear that it was time for some changes. It was time for new priorities. It was time to make time for the things that matter, like family, and time to let go of a lot of stuff. It was time to make every day matter because for too many—there wouldn’t be another day.
Hopefully, and I think the jury is still out, it will be remembered as a time when a lot of people discovered or rediscovered God. A time that, for the first time, many could call Him Father. Hopefully, and I also think the jury is still out, it will be remembered as a time that the church rediscovered what it was supposed to be and do. Maybe it will be known as a time when the church stopped being a building at a certain address and became a people who still met in a building but then left to touch the lives of hurting people. A “410” of sorts that heralded the Good News of God’s love.
The old “410” let us three little ones know it was time to wake up and the Bible says it is time for the church to do the same thing. It says that we Jesus followers should know the time, that the hour has come for us to wake from sleep. The reason? Our salvation is nearer to us now then when we first believed. In other words—wake up sleepy head—it is Christmas morning—time to rise and shine. Rise and shine—that sometimes is easier said than done but I have a suspicion that with His help—we can shine for Him—letting others know loud and clear that, “He’s got this.”