“Happy Returns”

During the Christmas season one might hear the term Many Happy Returns. It is less popular now than in past years, but it still means that one wants these happy days to recur over and over. We will also probably hear songs about going home to relive those sweet times we remember and cherish. What we hope to recreate is the joy and expectation as well as the peace, love and family ties. Much of this may be nostalgia and a desire to escape the stress and responsibilities of adulthood. Nevertheless, since we can’t physically become that innocent child again or even go back to a home that no longer exists, we can share the feelings and customs we once had with our children.

We can try to instill in them those happy times from our childhood in hopes that they too will someday wish to return to their happy times and memories. Even if our family is now spread out far and wide and we can’t reunite, with the help of modern technology we can “see” and “hear” each other as we reminisce and ameliorate the situation.

After many years of harsh realities of trying to live the Christian life in a sinful and hostile world, most yearn to have a happy return to our days of zeal and love for Christ (Rev 2:4-5). The church at Ephesus had, “…persevered and had endured hardships for His name and had not grown weary” (v 3) but still needed to return to their first love. It is actually easier to have happy returns spiritually than physically. It starts with the renewal of our mind so that we can once again, “…be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasant and perfect will” (Rom 12:2).

The more we rediscover what His will for us is, the easier it will be to, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Rom 12:10-11). As we do these and other commands, we can become like the little children Jesus used for an example of what attitude it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 18:2-4). Like a small child at Christmas, we can anticipate with joy our happy return.
—Jim Bailey