Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Christmas Card by Keith Stillinger

A Christmas Card
By Keith Stillinger

Christmas time is my favorite time of the year.  I guess this is so because people's attitudes are so changed during the holiday season.  People seem so much friendlier and their willingness to help one another is truly showcased.  Ah,...that we could keep it all year.

As most of you know I was diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago and it was necessary to remove my right lung.  I have tried with all my might, but I'm never going to be as good physically as I was before the loss of the lung.  Sometimes this shows in my attitude.  I think "poor me, I don't have the strength to do this or that."  I run out of energy and I better find a chair someplace fast.  But I'm still going and still driving.  That happens to be one of my great loves.  And guess what--my cancer has not returned.

I look back over the last five or ten years and I'm suddenly struck with the fact that many of my good friends are not with us anymore.  Phil in Boston is gone, Hoyt in Knoxville, Don in Ohio, Mel in Florida.  These were all Christian men, and good friends.  It's not about money.  It's about the loss of personal influence, guidance, and friendship, all of which are both physical and especially spiritual, that are no longer available.

Of all the many Christmas cards we have received, one struck me as the saddest I have ever seen.  It was from a friend of mine from Cincinnati who was a close personal friend in high school.  We were always together.  While we don't see one another often now, we have always exchanged cards at Christmas.  The card was from Art, my friend.  It said "It's hard to have much Christmas spirit this year as I lost my wife, my sister, and my daughter all this past year."  I was dumbstruck.  I knew his wife and sister.

I pondered this revelation and finally decided to call Art.  I told him how sorry I was and I suggested we meet halfway in Greensburg for lunch.  My friend said, "I don't think I can do that as I have COPD and macular degeneration, therefore I can't read and I can't drive.  I just exist day by day."

Art's revelation has been with me every day since.  I read in Proverbs 17:17 and 18:24: "A friend loves for all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."  Here I sit with more blessings than I can count, bemoaning the fact that I don't have it as well as I used to.  So many of us fail to recognize and appreciate what God supplies for us both physically and spiritually.  My friend's life has made me realize what my true blessings have been and continue to be.  I know I can't live without my God.  And I hope you do a better job of recognizing your blessings than I have done.


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