The Christmas Anchor… Good morning, Hump Day readers. Did you know that there are only 17 days until Christmas? I didn’t until this morning when every commercial on TV reminded me. Of course, there was no mention of what Christmas was about, but wow—I learned of all kinds of presents big and small that were a “must” if you want to give the perfect gift.

An ad that struck me was for Old Spice as it reminded me that my dad always wore that scent and I thought “hmm…is Old Spice available in heaven? My second take was the ad’s “spin”—a guy was drifting out to sea and his gal was on the dock yelling out “come back, I remembered to get you your Old Spice!” His response was to jump in the water and swim back to her, ending with: “Don’t let your sweetie drift away! Give him Old Spice this Christmas.”

I admit I laughed at the almost-absurd picture of it all, but then it hit me—sometimes we get so caught up in the trappings of the ‘secular-holiday-Christmas’ that we drift away from the real reason we celebrate it! A few stats from Poll View show this time of the year generates more mental health and domestic violence issues, plus isolation and hopelessness. Well, that sure isn’t anything to celebrate, is it?

My thoughts go to the child in the manger—the Christ who gave up everything to become human and live among us and save us from our sins. If our anchor is not in this Christ-child, it’s no wonder Christmas becomes difficult and for many, just hopeless. Listen to this true story by a Vietnam soldier, Major F. J. Harold Kushner who spent 5 years as a POW in the hell-hole prisons of Cambodia, then North Vietnam.

“During his time as a POW Kushner encountered a young 24-year-old Marine. He became very concerned about this young man who had a deal with the commander of the prison by agreeing to cooperate with the Viet Com in doing so would be released soon “just like he had done with others.” Kushner told him it was a lie but the Marine was sure it would work out.

 The soldier—for two long years–became a model prisoner, even leading the camp’s thought-reform group. But he began to waver in the promise of release, finally realizing the commander had lied to him. Kushner said “I tried to encourage him to no avail. He became like a Zombie, refusing to work, to eat and he just laid on his cot and sucked his thumb like a little child. In a few weeks he died.”

When Kushner first shared this story, the news reporter asked him why this vibrant young man went downhill so fast. Kushner said “hopelessness” something he understood because he saw it every day in those prisons. A friend of Kushner, Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker, treated many Vietnam POW’s and prisoners in the U.S. He wrote: “There’s no question about it—the human spirit needs hope to survive and thrive. Since my early years as a physician, I learned that taking away hope is, to most people, like pronouncing a death sentence. They’re already hard-pressed will to live can be paralyzed, and they may give up and die.”

Remember Dante’s Divine Comedy, where the inscription over the entrance to hell said: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!”? What would Jesus say to those with such troubled minds and hearts? I think He would wrap his arms around them and give his healing love to their body, mind and soul. He would tell them “I AM your hope” because He gets it–he was there, too. When Jesus descended to hell it was to declare that sin was no more and the Savior of the world had come to heal and save.

The topic of HOPE is spread throughout all the Scriptures, woven in and out of lives through trying times, and HOPE continues today in our life-stories. Read the truth and hopet of these words from the Apostle John 1: 1-7 [NCV]:

“In the beginning there was the Word.
The Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were made by him and
nothing was made without him.
In him there was life, and that
life was the light of all people.
The Light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overpowered it.”

Isn’t that what we – well the whole world needs and wants? George Gallup of the famed Gallop Polls, states with certainty: “People in many nations appear to be searching with a new intensity for spiritual moorings and one of the key factors prompting this search is a deep need for hope in these troubled times.”

HOPE is the gift of the Child in the manger. Yes, He seems so meek and mild in our little nativities and carols, but don’t let that confuse you of who this newborn-Child is! He IS the Christ—He IS the HOPE of the World and HE is the Lion of Judah who roars against sin and hopelessness that hurts His children. You CAN BE CERTAIN of that! So, moor your boat at His dock, throw Him your anchor this Christmas, and drift to His Hope, love, and peace which is the greatest of gifts you can give and receive—amen? Oh yes, AMEN!