An Empty Chair

We are in the midst of the holiday season. It is amazing that Christmas comes earlier each year or maybe that is just the way it seems to me. It is the wonderful time to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ!

This summer June, Nathan and I visited the North Pole. Actually, it was North Pole, Alaska, a small town outside of Fairbanks. My wife starts Dec. 26 preparing for the next Christmas. To visit North Pole, Alaska was truly a treat for all of us.

Christmas has always been a premier family event in our home. We seek to honor the Lord. Usually one of the children reads the birth narrative of Jesus. We pray together.

From a purely fellowship aspect, food takes center place. This year will be different at the Richards’ home. There will be an empty chair. June’s dad and my mother both passed away last summer. When we sit down with our families, for the first time in our lives the chair will be empty where our loved one sat.

Theoretically, I have known that holidays were difficult for many people. Experientially, it happened to me about 10 years ago when my dad went to be with the Lord. Now, with Mother gone to heaven I have no childhood home where I can go for Christmas.

During this tremendous time of gift giving, food and family, there are those who sorrow. The empty chair is a reminder. Let me share with you some lessons I am learning.

?The Holy Spirit ministers strength through the circumstances of life. We do not operate “under” the circumstances but “above” them.

?Focus on the Lord Jesus. While Christmas is for families, it is intended to be Christ-centered.

?Especially remember those who are alone, in sorrow, sick or otherwise in need. By caring for others, our loss is easier to bear and we are showing the love of Jesus.

Take time this holiday to enjoy your family. Keep Jesus the pre-eminent One in your festivities. Thank you for letting me share my heart with you.

Your servant in Christ.

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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