Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Usually on Christmas Eve I race around Richmond and London doing all my last-minute Christmas shopping. I always bump into various people I know/knew years ago, who are in the same boat as me. I'll hurriedly catch-up with some of them, before each excusing ourselves with "Well I have to dash now, as I have to go and buy so-and-so a digital-Ninja-Pokemon-Rubik's-Weakest Link-mobile Atari watchphone before W H Smith closes."

Then, when the shops shut at 5:30, I sit down for a few quiet moments and just watch.

The shops change their hoardings to advertise their Boxing Day sales. People wait on benches for the rest of their families. They meet-up, get in cars, and drive home to enjoy Christmas. Somehow, all the lights seem to start twinkling and, for me, the presence of God feels very real.

For me, this is the actual end of the year. Everyone's plans have finished. Everyone's lives have closed for the year. There is nothing else left to do now, no reports to finish, no meetings, no plans involving other people. All that is left outstanding is to go home to one's family. It's always such a peaceful half-an-hour. For me it's always an opportunity to reflect and thank God for his many blessings this year.

This Christmas Eve, someone was missing. Heck no, this Christmas Eve everyone was missing. I did no Christmas shopping this year, I had no friends to bump into, and certainly no old friends to hurriedly catch-up with.

But, to my immense surprise, the feeling of peace was still there.

My life however, was still one big last-minute rollercoaster.

After recording some liners at Life fm, I headed back to ACB, set my laundry running, and raced off to Hope City FM to present Goble On Christmas Eve. (which I later learnt had been picked up by Mr Hippy in his ice-cream van!) I then raced back to ACB to finish my laundry, just in time to rendezvous with Frank back at Life fm again.

Frank and his wife had kindly invited me over to spend what was left of Christmas Eve with them so, discussing the many entertaining differences between British and Kiwi culture, the three of us cruised on over to their home church, called Cession, for the midnight service.

This was quite engaging. Brett spoke quite enlighteningly about The Parable Of The Great Feast (Luke 14:15-24), and each part of the service seemed, to me, to be just the right length. At the end of the service though, something quite unexpected happened.

Frank turned to me, offered his hand, and said "Happy Christmas Steve."

Whu...??? No, no, no, it's hardly Christmas Frank, I mean I'm on the other side of the world, aren't I? It can't be Christmas because I'm away, and I only do that through the year, don't I?

But he was right. It was Christmas, here at any rate. And I was nearly 30 hours at a lucky push away from where all my previous Christmases told me that I should be.

If I'd raced to the airport and jumped on a direct flight to Heathrow, thanks to the time-difference, I could just about have made it home in time for Christmas Day in the evening. Just in time to begin sleeping-off the 3-weeks of jet-lag that journey always leaves me with. But no, as my life wound its ever-increasingly-bizarre course away from my childhood to God-actually-did-only-know-where, this was where I had been deposited for this Christmas. So far from home that I wouldn't even be staying in my regular cupboard at the hostel tonight.

It felt strange, but it was right.


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