Thursday, December 09, 2004

My Christmas Story

My Christmas Story
My church asked for Christmas stories to videotape for Christmas Eve services. The following is my story.

This is my Christmas story. I’m telling this story, even though parts of it are painful, to encourage those who may be having a tough time this Christmas. It is my story but it is also the universal Christmas story of hope.

It was Christmas Day, 1988 and my husband had just left me. My emotional state is hard to describe – despair, shame, grief. I decided not to tell my family and friends so I wouldn’t cause them pain. Sounds unselfish but I suspect an unhealthy dose of pride was involved in that decision.

So I woke up alone on Christmas morning to that special hush and indescribable light of newly fallen snow. Large flakes were still coming down. As the day progressed, I became increasingly filled with despair, grief, loneliness and self-pity. I was heartbroken.

Finally my eye caught the old hymnal, the one we used when I was a child. I had strayed from God after I left home, but He had been calling me home. And He called me again that Christmas morning through old familiar carols.

So alone in my home, on a snow covered Christmas morning, I opened the hymnal and sang every verse of every carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Angels From the Realms of Glory, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and the list goes on.

Halfway through I was on my knees worshiping the God that sent us his son and by the time I was finished I was prostrate before the King.

Eventually I stood, walked to the back window. As I looked out on that pure white morning, the ground was covered with red. Cardinals. Redbirds. I’ve never seen that many cardinals in a flock, before or since. Birds on the ground, birds in the bushes, birds in the trees, flashes of red flitting back and forth. I stood in awe at this remarkable sight. It was as if God decorated the world this Christmas morning just for me.

Finally, I wandered to the front window and there were more cardinals! I laughed and danced from window to window to catch this amazing sight. My house was surrounded with cardinals, God’s sign of hope to me, saying, “Yes, child, I came to earth for even you.”

So if you are hurting this year, let me encourage you. Hold onto God’s promises. Who knows what he has in store for you? A year after the caroling redbird Christmas, I met my husband. We were married two years later and three years after that, He gave us twin five-year-old boys. And my life has not been the same since! As I mourned the ending of one phase of my life that Christmas morning, I was given the only true hope - Emmanuel. God with us.

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