A Christmas message from President and CEO Mike Fichter

December 23, 2013

Christmas star on blue skyWelcome to the Christmas message I almost didn’t write.

It’s not that the need to write this message hasn’t been on my mind, or Christmas for that matter. But as you may be able to relate, this year seems unusually busy and in some ways, unusually urgent. Mix together busyness and urgency and you have a bad combination for writing any type of message without compromising authenticity. The result? A serious case of writer’s block. I waited far too long to craft these thoughts, but as I sat at my desk on an early December morning, I knew one thing clearly: I didn’t want to miss this opportunity.

This whole process has helped me to grasp how missed opportunity lies at the very heart of the Christmas story. There was no room in Bethlehem for a young man and his beloved betrothed, even as she bore the strain and exhaustion of traveling such an unthinkable distance for one in such an advanced stage of pregnancy. One can only imagine the fear and desperation in Joseph’s eyes as he moved from door to door, seeking anyone who would invite them in, even as Mary’s own eyes spoke to him in saying, “it is time”.

It was indeed time. And so He was born, the King of Kings, worthy of service by myriads of the heavenly hosts, in a rude setting where no one on earth would expect to find the Messiah.

Bethlehem had missed its great opportunity.

Thirty-three years later, the One who healed the sick, made the blind to see, and even kneeled to wash the feet of His closest friends, was beaten, scourged, spit upon, and nailed to a Roman cross between two thieves. He came to seek the lost, knocking on the door of men’s hearts, seeking all who would invite Him in. He was paid back with a crown of thorns. Yet even as His royal heartbeat slowly began to fade, He lovingly spoke between agonizing breaths, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

This is the Christmas story. Yet for so many, then and now, He remains the greatest missed opportunity in a world fruitlessly searching for hope in someone or something else.

And so I write this Christmas message to myself as much as I write it to you: don’t miss the opportunities God gives you in life. Celebrate the little things. Focus on what really matters. Eliminate meaningless distractions. Give joyfully of your time and treasure. Place God first above else.

Every beat of your heart is a gift from the same God who knit you together in your mother’s womb. Is serving Him by speaking for the unborn your great opportunity? Please don’t let it slip by.

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