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A winter tale, following the crowd...

“I hate winter.” I thought as I dressed for school. It has snowed last night and I soon would have to walk that long mile or more to St John Vianney, the Catholic grade school I attended. I knew that snow meant I would have to wear those stupid buckle galoshes and probably the ugly wool coat and hat that made me look like a badly dressed Eskimo! I sighed as I tied my shoes, the worst of all things I would have to walk in this outfit past Whittier School where harassment of Catholic school kids was a daily game.

As I went downstairs now dressed in my school uniform, I could only think of how cool it would be if I could go to school at Whittier, it was less than a block from here. No more long walks, no more fighting with the Nicciono twins, who seemed to favor picking on Weston kids. I just wanted to be like everyone else, one of the crowd. As I came into the kitchen my worst nightmare was assured. Lined up by the door were the shining black boots I so hated and hanging near the door was the dreaded coat. The thought came to me, “Maybe I can fake being sick.” But, naww mom is a nurse that never worked. Other thoughts of how to avoid the onslaught ran through my mind. Maybe walk up Alvin drive, but no that is where the Nicciono twins live. There was no answer. I dropped heavily into my chair at the kitchen table and began to eat a bowl of corn flakes. “Geez, why can’t I be like everyone else?”

Isn’t that what we all seek? Not to stand out or to stand up for our beliefs. Being one of the crowd seems to be even more important in this day of electronic living. Knowing all the latest emojis and having tons of friends on Instagram or Facebook. “Liking” what everyone else likes and following the latest fads or threads or whatever. We find ourselves being counted among the masses with our only identity being our profile photo or latest hash tag. But is that what God wants for us?

Jesus stated this in pretty strong language,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world will hate you.” (John 15:17-18)

Of course this means we should be separate from this world. But the problem arises, is that possible?

It is the overriding theme of the Bible throughout the Old Testament. The nation of Israel was called,

“You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.” (Deuteronomy 14:2)

Yet we see that they continually fell back into being just one of the crowd. Doing what the surrounding nations do, worshipping what they worship. How can we have any hope that it will be different for us?

For me the answer is not easy and everyone is not willing to accept it. John put it like this,

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only cravings for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from the world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

Again, it is not easy and like Israel of old we seem to fall too often but we have the advantage they did not. In Jesus, we see that we can be in the world but not of the world and He calls us,

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

In the end it is a choice and every day we can make it, sometimes every moment. But we are never alone He has promised to be with us and I want to accept, how about you?

The funny thing about the school story is in the end I did leave the Catholic church and for many years was one of the crowd. But I was blessed to hear the calling of the Holy Spirit and His last day message from Revelation 18:4,

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, come out of her, my people, lest you share her sins, and lest you receive her plagues.”

I was blessed because I no longer had to seek to be one of the crowd but be one with Jesus.

I’ll tell you a secret, I am glad I live in warmer climes of Texas where I never have to wear galoshes, I still think they are stupid looking.

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