Contact Info Subscribe Links


Oct/Nov 2006

take it to the streets






ONe to one: jumping to conclusions

by Keith Burden, executive secretary, National Association of Free Will Baptists. Email Keith at

IT WAS A BLUSTERY, WINTERY AFTERNOON in December. Like any normal fifth grader I preferred playing in the cold outdoors to being cooped up in the stuffy house. An old storage building in the backyard became fort, clubhouse, and sanctuary from reality for a young boy with a vivid imagination.

The two-week Christmas vacation was a welcome break from school. A small, native cedar tree stood majestically in our living room decorated with simple ornaments and brightly colored lights. The distinct scent of evergreen permeated every room. Excitement heightened as we anticipated the arrival of family for the holidays.

I saw the car while riding my bicycle in the street behind our house. It turned the corner and moved slowly in my direction. My heart began to race. I would have recognized that car anywhere. It was my sister’s automobile. She and her family were coming from out-of-town for their annual Christmas visit.

As the familiar looking vehicle approached, I ditched my bike in the yard and began dashing down the street, jumping and yelling ecstatically. I was oblivious to how ridiculous I looked or acted. This was a “red letter day!”

Christmas isn’t about mythical characters or holiday traditions—it’s about God taking on flesh and dwelling among us. Emmanuel.

The car slowed to a stop in front of our house. Anxiously I grabbed the handle and opened the door to greet my sister and her family. What I saw left me speechless, in stunned disbelief. It wasn’t my sister or her family—it wasn’t even their car. It was a classic case of mistaken identity.

After a few moments of awkward silence I bolted and ran to my hideout in the backyard. Embarrassment swept over me like a tidal wave. I could only imagine how foolish I had looked.

I survived that humiliating episode. My sister and her family eventually arrived, and fortunately, one of life’s most embarrassing moments had a happy ending. It was one of my most memorable Christmastimes.

Ironically, many people will make the same mistake this Christmas. The euphoria of the season and the excitement of the holidays can cause us to jump to the wrong conclusions. We mistakenly assume that having all the trappings, gathering the family, and exchanging gifts makes for a meaningful celebration.

There’s nothing wrong with holiday traditions. However, Christmas isn’t about mythical characters or holiday traditions—it’s about God taking on flesh and dwelling among us. Emmanuel. He is the reason our families have hope and significance. He is God’s unspeakable gift.

Not long after that Christmas I received that unspeakable gift. I opened the door of my heart and received Jesus as my Savior. This time there was no surprise or embarrassment.

If you’ve never received God’s indescribable gift of salvation, I urge you to jump at the chance. Open the door to your heart and invite Him in.






©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists