‘A Christmas Carol’ – Where Are They Now? #4

book_52-trquis-christmas-talesWith continued apologies to Mr. Dickens, I offer my fourth story in the series of futuristic peeks into the characters of his lovely novel. Although I wrote these stories a couple years ago, I’m enjoying re-posting them for a fresh reading this season.

# 4 The Spirit of Christmas Present: Living in the Here and Now

Reggie sat slumped in his chair, his right leg carelessly propped over the chair arm, gloom written all over him. He’d been this way for weeks, and hitting the bottle wasn’t helping him any. It just gave him a horrible headache the next morning. So tonight, he’d left off the booze, but he sat in a stupor anyway.

“Well, what a pretty picture you make tonight, Reginald, old boy!” The voice jolted him upright; he looked around.

“Who’s there?”

The voice took shape: on the sofa to his right, a well-tailored man gradually came into focus, lounging with his feet propped on the coffee table. “I’m generally called Spirit of Christmas Present. That’s what your Uncle Ebeneezer called me.”

“Oh, so you’re the one who supposedly helped him straighten out his life, huh?”

The figure shrugged. “Among others.”

“Well, you can go back where you came from,” Reggie said, at the same time making a shooing motion with his hand. “I don’t need anything you have to say!”

“You need a hammer to your head!” his visitor replied. “It’s just a shame I’m not allowed to give it to you.”

“Hey, where do you get off talking like that to me? Threatening to hit me in the head with a hammer! For what?”

“For constantly trying to live in a time dimension that it’s impossible for you to inhabit. You’re living either in the past — sucking on your memories the way a baby does his thumb — or in the future — always focusing on next week or next year. It’s stupid. Your memories make you miserable, and your future makes you anxious and edgy because it holds problems you don’t have answers for yet.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re here because you think you’re going to fix me?”

“No … I’m going to tell you how you can fix yourself.”

“Well, just maybe I don’t want to be fixed. What do you think about that?”

“Your uncle didn’t think he wanted to be fixed either – until he saw where his life was leading him. Do we have to give you the same kind of detailed, guided tour of your life the way we did for him?”

“Who’s we?”

“You know – the Spirits of Christmas Past and Future, and yours truly.”

Reggie shivered in his chair. He would never consider admitting to this strange visitor that he believed what had happened to his old uncle, but he did have to admit to himself that he’d seen the changes in Ebeneezer first hand. And when his uncle had described his experience, it had sent cold chills down Reggie’s spine. He certainly didn’t want any more of that.

“Okay, okay. Just give me your spiel and let me get back to my contemplation.”

“What you were … contemplating … as you call it … was how sorry you are for yourself. And what I’m going to tell you will set you free from all your self-pity and wasted life if you’ll take heed to it.”

“Okay, okay, get on with it.”

“Well, it’s actually very simple, Reggie. You simply have to make yourself be where you are.”

“Huh?” Reggie shook his head briskly and sat forward in his chair, looking more intently at his visitor. “What the heck does that mean?”

His visitor sighed. “It means, Reg, that you need to be in the present hour — every hour of your life. Live now. You can’t re-do yesterdays, Reggie, and the future is nothing but a long series of ‘now’s’ that you’ll eventually experience one at a time. But when you get to them, you’ll have what it takes to deal with all of them. Trying to worry ahead of time about what might or might not be in those ‘now’s’ is ridiculous because you can’t even begin to know what they’ll be like. So why exhaust yourself worrying about them? And why drive yourself to drink by sitting around pitying yourself for the things that have already happened and can’t be changed?”

Reggie hung his head. “Yeah, I guess I have to admit my life’s a bummer coming and going.”

His visitor jumped up from the sofa, and Reggie looked up at him, a little fearful.

“Then for heaven’s sake, man, quit coming and going – hopping from your sad past to your unreadable future! Start living where you are and when you are. Take one day at a time, and one hour at a time. Look at it, feel it, taste it; let it soak into you; enjoy everything you can about it, and if you can’t enjoy it, then learn something from it. But live it. Start really living each one of those moments in your life, Reggie, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.”

“But I don’t think I know how.”

“It isn’t rocket science, Reggie. As I said at the beginning of our conversation: it’s simple. You just have to decide to do it. And I’m not telling you everything will be the way you want it. Your life – like anyone else’s – will have its ups and downs. It may not always be great – but at least it will be real.”

Reggie hung his head again, trying to get a better handle on the fact that he was listening to some vision that just suddenly appeared in his living room. He had to admit that what his visitor said gave him the first inkling of hope that he could actually have a better life. He looked back up to the visitor to say so – then blinked. The room was empty.

~~~

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‘A Christmas Carol’ – Where Are They Now? # 3

book_52-trquis-christmas-talesWith continued apologies to Mr. Dickens, I offer my third story in the series of futuristic peeks into the characters of his lovely novel. Although I wrote these stories a couple years ago, I’m enjoying reposting them for a fresh reading this season.

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# 3 The Spirit of Christmas Past: Request For Transfer
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“Mr. Alexander, the Spirit of Christmas Past is here for his 2:00 appointment.”

“Send him in.”

As the door opened, his boss could see that Past was unhappy.

“Good to see you, Past. We haven’t had a talk in – what – three or four years?”

“Four years, Sir,” Past said, taking a seat.

“I get a lot of good reports about your work. But you look unhappy. Is something wrong?”

“Yes, Sir. Something’s very wrong!”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Can I help?”

“Well, Sir, I was wondering if I couldn’t trade places with Christmas Present for a while.”

“But you’re an expert at what you do, Past. Why would you want to have to learn a whole new job?”

“Because I never get a chance to use any of the new stuff, sir – any of the new technology and advanced equipment and devices that men have invented in the last several decades. I never get to play video games, or use cell phones, or those gadgets they call iPods. Why, do you realize I’ve never even had a chance to use a computer?”

“Well, I have to admit that I hadn’t given that point any thought, Past, but you don’t need any of those devices in your work, do you?”

“That’s just the point, sir. I don’t need any of those things in my work, so I get none of the fun involved with using them. And there’s something else that’s just recently come out – a brand new thing-a-ma-jig that they call Google Glass. Wow! It looks like a blast!”

“Google glass, huh?”

“Yes sir.”

Mr. Alexander just shook his head in consternation. He didn’t understand all this new-fangled equipment either, but that fact hadn’t bothered him before now. Maybe he was starting to fall behind himself. He looked back at Past, unsure what to say because he knew there was no way The Boss would go along with moving Past to a totally new time dimension.

Past looked at him hopefully. “It just isn’t fair, Sir! And that’s why I’m asking for a transfer. I was sure you’d understand when I explained.”

Mr. Alexander leaned back in his chair and looked at Past kindly. “Let me think this over for a bit, Past, and, of course, I’ll have to run it by The Boss.

One week later, Past walked back into Mr. Alexander’s office, having been summoned there to discuss the troubling issue again. When he arrived, he saw several gaily wrapped packages of various sizes on Alexander’s desk.

“Have you just finished your Christmas shopping?” Past asked.

“Not exactly, Past, but I have been doing some shopping for some special gifts.”

He motioned to a chair in front of his desk. “Sit down, Past, and I’ll tell you about these packages.”

Past took his seat, his eyes alight with excitement, and Mr. Alexander stood with his hand on top of one of the larger gifts. “The Boss said we just can’t possibly reassign you to a different job. You’ve been trained specifically for what you do, and you bring centuries of experience into every case you handle. So we need you to stay where you are, Past.”

Immediately Past’s mouth drooped and his eyes lost their light, but before he could say anything, Alexander continued.

“But The Boss and I also understand you naturally feel cheated in certain areas because of the need to focus uniquely on people, facts, and events from a dimension of time that has none of the benefits of the present day. You don’t get to spend any time in the present, and certainly have no possible involvement in what’s coming down the road in the future.

“So –” he turned and lifted one of the gifts, smiling at Past – “we felt the least we could do was to give you some of the devices that you’ve longed for the last several years. You may not get to use them on the job, but you can have fun with them personally in your time off.” At that point, he handed Past the gift he’d been holding.

“Receive this with our deep appreciation for the terrific job you do, Past. And all these other packages as well,” he added, sweeping his hand over the entire collection. “There’s one of everything you mentioned to me in our last meeting, and we hope they will, in some small way, make up for all that you’ve missed out on.”

Past was speechless. He was barely able to reach out and take the package from his boss’ hands. “I’m … I’m … Well, I just don’t know what to say,” he stammered. “All of these are for me?”

“Indeed they are, Past. Enjoy them as much as you can. It’s the least we can do for you considering all the people you’ve helped and the lives you worked so hard to change for good during your many years of faithful service in the … well … the past.”

~~~

A Christmas Carol: Where Are They Now? # 1

book_52-trquis-christmas-talesWith my sincere apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens, I’m offering a series of futuristic vignettes that take a look at a few of the characters of his heart-warming novel and what their lives may have been like decades  beyond the words “The End” at the close of his masterpiece. These tales are simply the result of my imagination being given free rein, but I offer them in the spirit of the season, hoping you’ll enjoy them. You can also find them in my Christmas anthology Stocking Full of Stories, which is for sale at the Amazon Kindle Store all year long.

# 1  EBENEEZER THE SUITOR

Ebenezer had never felt his heart stop beating before. Was that what was happening, or was he just forgetting to breathe? He wasn’t sure, but He did know he was looking at the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen, and he was glad he’d worn the new suit.

“Ebenezer, meet my cousin, Marilee Cratchit,” said Bob.

Marilee extended her hand, and Ebenezer took it, becoming submerged in the magical cloud of her cologne. He’d been nervous about attending this party, but since his regeneration on Christmas day last year, he was welcomed everywhere. Right now he felt ten feet off the ground. It seemed being a kind, generous man really was the most important thing in life.

“Ebeneezer, I’ve been dying to meet you,” Marilee cooed. “Come sit with me and talk.”

His heart danced. He couldn’t believe anyone so beautiful and fragile would be interested in spending time with him. His heart skipped a couple beats as he wondered: was he actually going to get another chance at love?

“What shall we talk about?” he asked her, contemplating ways to express his renewed heart to her. Ever since his transformation, he found that he wanted to tell everyone how good life was when you learned that people are more important than money.

“I’d like to talk about your money, of course!” she said. “They say you’re the richest man in London!”

Disappointed at her words, he answered: “Uh … I don’t know. Is it important?”

“Well it is to me! Without a lot of money one can’t own a fine home, or fashionable clothes, or beautiful jewelry. And there’s no chance to travel and have fun without a lot of money either. Surely you, of all people, know how important it is.”

“Well, I admit that I used to feel that way. In fact it cost me the love a wonderful woman when I was quite young. But last year I had a most unusual experience that taught me a valuable lesson about life.”

“Oh? What lesson was that?”

“That people are much more valuable than money and that unless you care about people money doesn’t really do you any good because no matter how many things you buy with it, it cannot take away loneliness and give you love.”

“Well, I’ll take my chances,” she said. “I do not intend to be poor or to do without all the finer things in life.” She gave him a saucy look, her seductive smile in place. “I may as well warn you, Ebbie, I’m looking for a rich husband, and I have my eye on you.”

He squirmed just a little where he sat and cleared his throat. “Marilee,” he said, “I think perhaps there’s a book you should read. I’ll loan you my copy. It’s a little Christmas story by Charles Dickens.”

~~~

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CHRISTMAS YOUR WORLD FOR individual postHey, don’t forget to click on the “Christmas In Your World” page here on the site to share with us about your own special Christmas experiences: memories, recipes, wishes, traditions (could be traditions in your family, your hometown, or your nation.). Write your thoughts in the “Comments” window on the “Christmas In Your World” page and share as many times as you like.

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Let’s Not Get Stuck At The Manger This Christmas

Exif JPEGAway in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.”  Everyone knows the song, and nearly everyone acquaints Christmas and Jesus Christ with that lowly  manger on the night of His birth as a human being. But, beloved, we must make sure that we do not continue to acquaint Jesus Christ with a little baby lying in a manger — helpless and dependent on mommy and daddy to feed, change, clothe, and protect Him. In fact, if we would bring pleasure to the heart of God, we would actually give very little attention to that lowly feeding trough, and we would focus our attention on where Jesus went from there. Because, in actual fact, where He went from there is exactly where we have gone. He took us with Him every step of the way.

Before His lowly birth into the human race, the person we know as Jesus Christ was the second person of the Godhead. He is described in the first chapter of the Gospel of John as “the only-begotten son” of the Father. The Greek term that is translated “only begotten son” actually means a being that never had a time of beginning. And because Jesus was part of the triune Godhead, He had existed for all time just as much as the Father and the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting to note that only before His redeeming work on earth is Jesus referred to by this term. Once He became a human being, suffered and died and rose again, He is never referred to by that particular term again. He is referred to only as the first-born from the dead, or the head of the church. Because He is no longer just God — but is now God and man together, His whole identity has changed.

But in the old covenant, while still the “only begotten son”, He was also the person of the Godhead who would reveal Himself in physical form to man whenever there was a need for that. Every time we see the old covenant fathers receiving a visit from what many Bible translations call “the angel of the Lord,” the men themselves recognized that they were actually in the presence of the Lord Himself. They all recognized that this person who was visiting them was part of the Godhead and, therefore, they addressed Him as Lord or they named the place where they had received Him in honor of having come face to face with their God. Jacob wrestled with that “angel of the Lord,” but when the battle was over, and that “angel” had blessed him with a new name and a new identity, Jacob named the place, “I have seen the face of God”

During the old covenant, those visits by the second person of the Godhead were very short and for very specific reasons, but the Word of God says that “when the time was fully come,” God sent forth His son, born of a woman. In other words, there was a set time at which that person of the Godhead would no longer fleetingly come and go to help man a little bit here and there along the way — but would come and stay as a man so that He could live the life of perfect obedience that a holy God demanded, and then he could give His life to pay for the disobedience of every other man, thereby satisfying God’s justice, His holiness, and His merciful love for His wayward creation.

So when the time was fully come, Jesus obediently got up from His throne, laid aside all the privileges of being part of the Godhead (Philippians 2: 6-7), and took on the same flesh that every other human being had to live in on this earth. Why did He do that?  In order to live a life on this earth as a human being, facing everything we face in a world cursed because of sin and terrorized by satan and his hordes of demons. Jesus had to live life as a real man — obedient to God’s covenant — anointed by the Holy Spirit with power for ministry — and He had to do it perfectly. He did it, and the Word of God says He did it for you and me.

But then He willingly allowed the Father to lay onto Him all the sin, all the rebellion, all the hatefulness that we had perpetrated — as well as all the curse for breaking God’s laws. He was beaten with stripes beyond recognition for our healing, and He hung on the cross until He had given up every ounce of His blood for our sin. The Word says He died for all, and so in God’s mind, we all died with Him. (Romans 6:3-9, Galatians 2: 20).

So let’s leave the manger and go on to the cross. We hung there in Jesus until the price was paid. But when His body came down from that cross and was put into the grave, that act too was simply one more step in the journey. It was not a stopping place. Because three days later, when God the Father was able to proclaim the price was paid and He could then justly give eternal life to the human race because of what Jesus had done on our behalf, Jesus rose from that grave. The Word says (Ephesians 2: 1-7) that God brought us up out of that grave with Jesus — in Him, to be exact. But that’s still just one step in the journey. There’s more, and it’s the most exciting part of all.

When Jesus had finished His redeeming work and was resurrected — carrying us with Him — He then moved back into Heaven — right into the throne room from which He had begun His journey. But this time, according to the Word of God, He did not enter that throne room as an individual person. He entered it as the Head of His new Body — the body of believers — who died, were buried, and were resurrected in Him. Let’s refer once more to that passage in Ephesians 2, which says clearly that God seated us– in Jesus — at His very right hand — to reign there forever.And what do we reign over? Why everything in life. Romans 5:17 says, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ.”

So, beloved, this Christmas do not linger at the manger too long. Observe it, yes, as the symbol of the fact that the Lord of the universe willingly came to this cursed planet to accomplish God’s purpose of salvation. Move on to the cross, but do not linger there too long either. Move on to the grave and experience the glorious, exhilarating reality of having been brought up out of death into eternal life. But go on further. Go forward from the open grave to the throne. That’s where we have our reality now. We are seated in Jesus at the right hand of the Father.

And the next time you find yourself in serious trouble — in circumstances that look impossible — remember that you are not supposed to be looking at those circumstances from  a world point of view. You need to look at them from where you are actually seated.. Look down on those problems and those circumstances, and when you pray about them, don’t grovel and whine and beg. You’re praying from your position at the right hand of the God of the universe. Let His faith, his joy, and His vision be your own and take authority over those circumstances. Proclaim God’s Word to them and over them.

You’re in a royal position now because the Lord you serve and worship is no longer lying in a manger — no longer hanging on a cross — no longer lying in a grave.  He’s reigning at the right hand of the Father God — and so are  you. Making us righteous enough to take that position, beloved, is the whole reason Jesus came to the manger in Bethlehem. Putting us in our legal position on the throne at the right hand of God is what Christmas is all about.

 

 

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