Every year, my family (parents, siblings, and one sibling-in-law to date) pick a day to shop in Frankenmuth. (Michiganders need no explanation for this tradition; to all others, I suggest Google.) My memory is Christmas last year, two days before Christmas, and we are piled into my parents’ van. We pull out of the driveway and, no more than two hundred feet down the road from their house, my dad hands my mom his cell phone (he’s driving) and says, “Call Scott for me.”
Cue groaning from the entire van. “Seriously, Dad? It’s Christmas. Leave Scott and his family alone.”
Dad: “No, no, it’s fine, I’ve just got this one thing I want to tell him.”
All of us: “Dad, seriously. You don’t need to talk to Scott right now.”
Dad: “Call Scotty for me!”
So Mom does, and Dad takes the phone back. Neither Scott nor my father ever just talk on the phone; they yell at each other as if there is no phone and they are trying to be heard over the miles. Next heard is a joyful, boisterous “HEY SCOTTY!” from my dad, followed by an easily-heard-through-the-phone, equally happy, “HEY BILL!”
I don’t remember what my dad needed to tell Scott on December 23 while driving to Frankenmuth, and I’m sure he doesn’t, either. But they were brothers in the faith and brothers of the heart, and when one of them called, the other always answered.
Until this past July, when Scott left this world to go home to Jesus. Unexpected is an understatement. An undiagnosed heart defect and subsequent rupture of the aorta did more damage to his body than modern medicine could repair, yet Scott hung around here in that physical frame for six weeks while we all tried to imagine what our world would look like without him. None of us had figured it out by the time he departed to enter the presence of his Savior. And we still haven’t, not really.
For some reason, that moment two days before Christmas is personally my most vivid memory of the friendship between my dad and Scott. Maybe because, as ridiculous as it is, I was irritated with my dad for a few minutes. We often teased him and Scott that they talked on the phone as often as two teen girls. Our eye rolling was good-natured, but the consensus in the van was that Dad had plenty of time to talk to Scott later and that Christmas is not the time to bug people.
We were wrong.
Do you love someone? Do they fortify your soul as they come alongside you on the glorious narrow road marked Christian Life? Do they say, “Let’s walk together, let’s be brothers/sisters on this journey”?
That’s who Scott and my dad were to each other. I’m grateful for the spiritual sisters of my heart who do the same for me. I pray that whoever you are, reading these words, you can think of one person who is walking alongside you. If you can’t today, pray that God will bring him/her. And then be willing to invest over time.
Yes, for many, this is an inconvenient thought for December. It’s easy to decide we don’t have time left to spend with Jesus and then shake our heads at the innkeeper who had no room. It’s easy to put people off, to promise to “reconnect after the holidays” and then go through the motions of social interaction without ever glimpsing each other’s hearts. Hardly the meaning of Christmas. In fact, possibly the worst observation of Christmas we could practice.
Jesus came for people. Came to give Himself. His coming would change the world, but for now, only a few got face time with Him—shepherds interrupted from their sheep-tending, Magi interrupted from their stargazing, willing to change their plans. Intimate moments—throughout the Bible, that’s what Jesus is always about.
So this Christmas, let’s come alongside each other. Like my dad and like Scott, let’s be ready to pick up the phone when we’re called on. And let’s be unafraid to call and shout (or just calmly say), “Hey! You matter! Merry Christmas!”