“From the Hart” Devotional for Dec. 14, 2023

“Don’t Blow a Fuse”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

Be Still and Know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

It was Christmas Eve of 1981 in Salt Lake City. I was 12 years old — old enough not to believe in Santa Claus anymore but young enough to still believe in the magic of Christmas. I had shopped for, paid for, and wrapped all of the Christmas presents for my family that year and I couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to see the excitement on everyone’s faces as they opened their gifts. I was particularly pleased about the gift I had found for my grandpa — a porcelain Garfield sitting on an overstuffed chair. My grandpa loved Garfield, and he loved sitting in his chair.

After suffering from a massive stroke, my grandpa (who we called Rocky) moved into our basement where he lived with us for several of my formative years. He had been a lawyer and a bank executive before his stroke, and in a moment his life was forever changed. After his stroke, he had to learn how to write, speak, and walk all over again. I watched him struggle to do the most basic things like make coffee or get up the stairs. I am sure that losing his ability to do so many things was frustrating for him, but he was always jolly, optimistic and full of wise words. He had many “Rockyisms” but the one I most remember hearing him say was “Don’t blow a fuse.” Nothing was worth getting that worked up about. He had a calmness about him that made you believe that everything would be okay. Perhaps the stroke had not just changed his life but his whole perspective on life as well. He saw the world through a different lens.

Not long before Christmas, my grandpa had gone into the hospital but was released on Christmas Eve day to be home for the holidays. What I didn’t know then was that he wasn’t released to be home for Christmas, rather he was released because there was nothing more that they could do for him. He went to my grandmother’s home instead of ours this time — I suppose because my grandma didn’t want him to die in ours. My father and all of his siblings went to be with him on that snowy Christmas Eve night and surrounded him as he peacefully took leave of this earth.

Waking up that Christmas morning was very different that year. At first, I thought that the magic of Christmas had been stolen forever. But that was far from the case. It was probably the most peaceful Christmas I have had. When we finally got around to opening our gifts, they meant so much more. My grandpa had given me a “Kiss my Grits” apron for my home economics class and all of us ornaments with our names on them. Then there were the gifts under the tree that we had wrapped for him. I eventually opened my gift to him. That porcelain Garfield still sits on my desk as a reminder not to blow a fuse or let the worries and stresses of the world get to me.

This will be the 42nd Christmas since he’s been gone. On Christmas Eve, the Hart family will do what they always do from wherever they are — light a candle and take a moment to remember him — something that brings each of us peace. As much as I still miss him, I have peace in knowing that he is with God, and he lives on in me.

Jesus came to this earth to teach us about peace. Peace within ourselves, peace with one another, and the peace of God. Here are some questions to think about as we search for peace this season:

In John 14:27, we read “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
How do you find peace when you are afraid?

In Galatians 3:28, we read “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Who do you know right now who does not feel safe based on their race, religion, gender, or other differences?
What is one thing you can do to help bring them peace?

In Proverbs 3:5, we read “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
How does seeing the world through God’s eyes, and trusting in God’s promises give you peace in the sometimes scary world around you?

Oh, holy and wondrous God.
During this busy season in a fractured world, help me to see peace from your perspective. Help me to see others through your lens of love. And help me not to blow a fuse when I am frustrated with situations, overwhelmed with responsibilities, or exasperated by others. Let me come at all things and all people from a place of peace.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.