As we celebrate Christmas this week, I depart from the regular format of my column in order to share one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read.
When I was a child I heard “One Solitary Life” by the Rev. James Allan Francis for the first time. The message is profound and has affected my life deeply. I hope it will impact yours, too.
“He was born in an obscure village,
a child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village
where he worked in a carpenter shop
until he was 30.
Then for three years
he was an itinerant preacher.
He never had a family.
Or owned a home.
He never set foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles
from the place he was born.
He never wrote a book
or held an office.
He did none of the things
that usually accompany greatness.
While he was still a young man,
the tide of popular opinion
turned against him.
His friends deserted him.
He was turned over to his enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross
between two thieves.
While he was dying
his executioners gambled
for the only piece of property he had,
When he was dead,
he was taken down
and laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
and today he is still the central figure
for much of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched,
all the navies that ever sailed,
and all the parliaments that ever sat,
and all the kings that ever reigned,
have not affect the life of man
upon this earth
as powerfully as this
One Solitary Life.”
The single most important question you must answer in your life is, “What will I do with this man Jesus?” If you have yet to answer this question, please don’t wait any longer.
Jesus was not a politician or lawyer, yet he transformed systems, rules and laws forever. He was not a lobbyist, yet he became the strongest advocate for the poor, disabled and helpless that the world has ever seen. He was not a businessman, yet he created the greatest code of ethics that, if followed, would stabilize the world’s economy overnight.
And, most importantly, Jesus was not a sinner. Yet, he took on the sins of all of mankind and paid the ultimate price so that God would not count our sins against us. He offers each of us the gift of total and complete forgiveness. That is the true gift of Christmas, and it can be yours for the asking.
Maybe you’ve never accepted the gift of forgiveness that Jesus offers you. Maybe you don’t even know how to ask for it. Don’t be distressed; he isn’t impressed by lofty words or eloquent language, anyway - he just wants to know you are sincere. Here’s a very simple prayer that might help you as you accept his life-changing gift of forgiveness:
“Dear Jesus, I come to you now with an open heart, eager to understand who you truly are. I can scarcely believe that you know all of my faults, sins, hopes and dreams - and that you love me just the same. But I choose this day to put my faith in you. Please forgive me for all the wrongs I have done, and help me to understand that your love for me is unconditional and complete. And please help me love you with all of my strength and to begin to follow in your footsteps by forgiving and loving others. I accept your gift of forgiveness and salvation, and I thank you for making me a new creature from this moment on.”
As you begin life anew, may you truly experience the peace and joy of Christ this Christmas, and every day of your life.
• Rebecca Hagelin is the author of “30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.” For more family tips, visit HowToSaveYourFamily.com or e-mail email@example.com.