Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Setting the Record Straight

A website I visited the other day asked me to choose the answer to a preset  the security question, "Who is your favorite fictional character?"

Being an Austen fan, and a lover of Jane Eyre, I had plenty of names to choose from.  I knew, however, that since this character needed to be one I would remember if I returned to this site perhaps even months from now, it had to be someone who stands out above all others.

There were only two who met that criteria:  Snoopy and Scrooge.

Snoopy on parade

Glen and I love Snoopy because we are beagle people.  Over the years we have had four beagles, two of which were the most incredible dogs we have, and could ever, own.  Grunt and Sparrow would make even Snoopy proud.  

The choice of Scrooge, however, may surprise you.  We are not just great beagle fans, we are great Dickens fans, and especially the story, "A Christmas Carol."  We love it in print, we love it in film (we prefer the version with Alastair Sim) and since last year in New York, we love it on the stage.

Alastair Sim in "A Christmas Carol"
Among all the characters in "A Christmas Carol" some may wonder why I would pick a miserly,  curmudgeon of an old man. You see, Scrooge may have started out that way, but he didn't end that way.  During  his visits by the Spirits, he came to see he could not continue in his life of selfish independence and abhorrence of the ministrations of others if he was to escape the consequences when his life ended.  

In his discourse with the last spirit he sought the intercession of the spirit, to no avail. He promised to not be the man he was, but still no freedom from the haunting Spirit of Christmas Future.  It was only when he turned his gaze from himself, and what he thought he could do to change himself, toward Heaven that he was transformed:

"Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost."

Upon awaking, and finding himself safely back in his own bedroom, he proclaimed, "Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this.  I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!"

In the end, "it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

Scrooge represents us all.  We want to try so much to reclaim ourselves.  We want to do something to make ourselves good enough to please God.  But nothing we can try, not the very best or greatest amount of works, can secure our salvation.

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He love us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast."
In the end, we -- like Scrooge-- must bow our hearts to the only One who can and has secured our salvation.  We must accept by faith His free gift and give ourselves wholly to Him.  It is then He creates in us a "clean heart," He begins the process of transforming us into the image of "His dear Son," and He adopts us into His family to forever be His Sons and daughters.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  
2 Corinthians 5:17

The question is not, how did you begin, but how will you end?

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