Summary: A four part series for the four weeks of Advent that seeks to make Christ more central in our holiday preparations and celebrations.

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TEXT: LUKE 1:26-38

Sunday, November 30, 2003

A gift at the right time. What is the word for that? A gift at the right time. Opportune, opportune. Thank you. It’s this little thing right here. I had to reglue it because I dropped it. It is a little door. I just love it because it fits so much with the theme. I want to keep it steady because it will fall over. Sorry. That’s the perfect gift to illustrate today’s message and actually the whole advent series, “Opening Our Heart’s Door.” Why are we opening our heart’s door?

A couple of weeks ago I got a call. I probably mentioned this to you. It was from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Actually, she made the call because he had asked her for a divorce and they wanted to talk to me. One, because I am the one who married them and I did their counseling, so I understood the dynamics of the relationship and the things that they would go through, and they went through everything that was predicted. In fact, the first thing he said was, “I know what you are going to say. Everything you said that would happen happened. I just didn’t think it would be this hard, and I don’t want to live this way anymore.” I spent a lot of time just trying to talk him out of it. After a time, I discovered there was no talking him out of it at the time, so I did the delay tactic. I said, you know what, you can get divorced anytime you want, but before you go through that door, think about it. Think about it as long as you thought about getting married. Think about it. Just take some time. Slow things down and make sure this is the door you want to go through, because know that once you walk through that door, your life changes.

That is true about a lot of the decisions we make, especially those ones that are pivotal decisions. Every decision we make and every door we walk through affects our life and affects our experiences in life. After I hung up I thought of an illustration that would have been so perfect -- you always get those great ideas once you hang up the phone. I remembered the movie, Castaway. They liked that movie. It really spoke to them. In the film, this guy who is climbing the corporate ladder has his own goals in his mind. He is engaged; he loves this woman, but he is following his life. He has plans for it, which are probably made up of his desires, his parents’ expectations, and cultural expectations about success. Once you get to a certain position, you do all you can to make it to the next stage. He is following his plans for his life and he gets this call. He works for Federal Express and they have been trying to develop markets. He gets this call on Christmas Eve. It is interesting that it falls on Christmas Eve. It is fitting for today. He has been asked to take this shipment of packages to South America and he has a choice. He knows that it is Christmas Eve and he wants to be with his family, but he chooses to go through that door. A knock came on his life and he chose to go through the door. He got on the plane, and when he got on that plane thinking it was for the success of his life, his plans ultimately led to the destruction of his life and the loss of everything he held dear -- in particular, his fiancé. Because when he got on that plane, it set in motion a chain of events. The plane crashed and he was on a deserted island for four years, and for four years they thought he was dead. His fiancé remarried and she was gone forever. His plans, that he thought were for his success, actually turned out the opposite way.

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