Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas Story

Christmas 2005

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
(Luke 2: 6 & 7)

As I read her email, my heart went out to her and her family. It had been a very difficult few years for all of them. We had just started our friendship, and yet I found I cared about her a lot. Her concerns for her children and herself, made me want to find a way to help them. She told me about her son being in a car accident and suffering head trauma. And that is when she wrote - “but thank the Lord he is fine today!”. She had suffered two major medical problems - one taking her sight - and the other nearly taking her life. Her family was struggling financially, and yet I never heard her whine or feel sorry for herself. The only time I heard sadness - was when she mentioned her Christmas tree. The family had lost a lot of their decorations in a fire a while back, and so the tree was a little bare this year. Even so, her hope and faith seemed so strong. “We’ve had some tough times - just like you” she wrote. And I wondered if I could be that strong . . .

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
(Luke 2: 8 & 9)

I was a single mom, trying my best to take care of my daughter. There wasn’t much money coming in, and I worried all the time. I wanted my daughter to have the things the other kids had, but some weeks there didn’t seem enough to even buy groceries. Christmas was coming, and I wanted to get presents. I was babysitting full time, volunteering at the counseling center, and still I took on a part time job. It was a job working week-ends selling Christmas trees. My job was to collect the money as people left the farm. And so I sat in a small wooden shelter, with only a gas heater to warm my feet. With my body bundled up, I tried to ignore how sick I felt. My chest hurt all the time, and I wondered how I would survive. I wanted to trust the Lord, I knew He had helped me through so many things, but what if this time - He didn’t . . .

And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;”
(Luke 2: 10)

Somehow, I got through that first Christmas. There were presents, and we had plenty of food to celebrate. Both my children were there that day, and the happiness I felt was only slightly marred, by the pain I still felt in my chest and body. I wanted to celebrate, to be happy, but I knew that something was terribly wrong.

That year, the doctors found out that I had a disease caused by a tick bite. It had affected my major organs, including my heart and lungs. By the time it was diagnosed, I found it difficult to do much more than sleep. I didn’t know how I would go on - - - living on my own and taking care of Jen. I was so afraid . . . Not knowing what the future would hold for us . . .

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;”
“For today in they city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
(Luke 2: 10 & 11)

As I thought back over those years, when things seemed so difficult, I knew that I had more fear - than I had faith. I wanted to trust the Lord, but the doubts were still there. Even so, looking back - I can see that He was with me the whole time! He never left me, even in my doubts and fears. When friends told me that I must have done something terribly wrong to be that sick - - - I begged God to forgive me, and I begged Him to help me. I didn’t know who else to turn to.

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
(Luke 2: 13 & 14)

There is a song by Brooks & Dunn called “Believe”. The first time Ted and I heard it - we both cried. It is a song about life. About difficult times - and “believing”. It is a story of a young boy and an old man - and the lessons the boy learns as they just sit and talk. The old man tells the boy about losing his wife and baby. The young boy then asks the man how he keeps from going crazy - from the pain of losing them. These are the words:

He said: “I’ll see my wife and son in just a little while”
I asked him what he meant
He looked at me and smiled, and said:

“I raise my hands, bow my head
I’m finding more and more truth in
The words written in red
They tell me that there’s more to life
Than just what I can see
Oh, I believe”

As I sit here thinking about my friend - and even about my own life - I realize that each of us will face hardships and troubles - here on earth. But we don’t have to face them alone. I have faced being homeless, single and having a child, having very little money, being sick - - - and still the Lord was always there to help me through. I couldn’t see Him - but He was there! That is the promise of this season - of Christmas. It is a promise of Hope - in the midst of all that we are facing.

My new friend has faced some very difficult times. But the Lord has been there through it all. Her son lived! She lived! And she and her family are blessed because they have each other - and the Lord.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go . . . And see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
(Luke 2: 14 - 16)

And they found their way - - - to the Lord! So many times we wonder where we are going, and how to get there. We wonder how we will get through the troubles on this earth. But the way - - - is through “believing”. Believing that He will help us through everything. I had so many doubts through the years, but I must have had a small amount of faith - to help me through. And that is all it takes, just a little faith to believe that God - - - loves even you . . .

“I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; . . .”

There is a line in the movie “The Santa Clause 2” which I love. It says: “Seeing isn’t believing - believing is seeing!” When you “believe”- miracles happen! Will you accept the Christmas gift - that He has waiting - just for you? When you do - You become that miracle . . .

But Jesus, said . . .“Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”
(Mark 5: 36)

God bless you on this glorious Christmas Day!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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