Missing the Obvious by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

At this year’s Christmas family reunion, we played the “Name That Song” game. Twenty-four individual, cartoon-graphic images were printed on a single piece of paper, each representing a different Christmas carol, and points were awarded for the couple with the most correctly-named songs within a ten-minute period.

For example, one picture showed “O’s” stacked as a Christmas tree. The correct answer? “Oh Christmas tree.” Most weren’t quite so easy. This was one that caused problems: ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. As I walked from room to room, a twenty-two-year-old couple kept reading those letters aloud…over and over again.

One time through should be sufficient, but my granddaughter, Britney, and her boyfriend, Cole, could not figure it out. “There is no ‘L.’ There must be a clue in that somewhere.”

They had answered much more difficult pictures but had completely missed this one. How was that possible? When time was up and we congregated to hear the correct answers, they could not believe that they had failed to answer something so obvious.

“We kept saying ‘no L’ but never put it together that the answer was ‘Noel.’” Another couple had done likewise.

Have you ever missed the obvious? I sure have. I don’t see the Christmas tree farm for the firs.

That’s what happened when, following a Sunday service one morning, a church congregant asked the pastor this question: “If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book, which book would it be, and why?” The pastor answered with his “obvious”: The Bible because “it would give me spiritual strength to get through the challenge of being alone on a desert island.”

He asked his questioner what he would choose. The answer was immediate. “I would want a book titled ‘How to Build a Boat.'” The pastor realized his mistake. After all, they were in a church when the question was asked. Surely a spiritual answer was expected.

Unfortunately, the pastor missed the obvious. If God sent that marooned man a Bible, he probably would have remained on the island. While it may not have cost much for the pastor to miss the obvious, it can cost us everything.

Following Jesus’ death, he appeared to two disciples on their way home from his execution. Downtrodden, they were appalled when Jesus asked them why they were so sad. After all, everyone knew that the one they believed would be their king had been crucified. Who wouldn’t be heartbroken?

It’s a Biblical mystery as to how they didn’t recognize the Messiah until he later broke bread with them at which time their eyes were open and Jesus’ resurrection became real to them.

Over the holidays, a granddaughter said that she wondered how many times she, as a child, had missed what God was doing in her life, how many times He saved her from disaster or even favored her but she took credit. I told her that I think that when we get to Heaven, we all will be overwhelmed by stories God shares about how much He was involved in our lives, and we never recognized it or gave Him credit.

I pray that 2022 is filled with opportunities to become aware of all the ways God is working in our lives. Just being aware will help us not miss the obvious.

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