Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Weekly Word - Dec. 4, 2012

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
A hope both sure and steadfast . . .
(Hebrews 6:19)

“Christmas” - somehow the day seemed to be rushing toward me - and I knew I wasn’t even close to being ready for it! I needed to decorate, bake, and of course - - - buy presents! So last week when we took some of the grandchildren to the movies, I decided to ask them what they wanted for Christmas. The boys got very excited, naming all sorts of games for their computer, army jets that flew, and building sets that they didn’t have yet. Abby though, got a bit quiet. She seemed to be thinking about the question. Then she looked at me and said “oh, you know what I want” with a big smile on her face. I had heard that she wanted a very special doll for Christmas, but that present was already being planned out. “But what do you want Santa to bring you?” I asked (hoping I could get a few more ideas out of her). “Oh, we don’t believe in Santa Clause” she said quite emphatically. “We can’t say anything to our little brothers, but “we” (and by that she meant herself and her twin brothers) are too big to believe . . .”

This hope we have . . .

As I looked at my granddaughter, there was so much I wanted to tell her. I started to tell her about “St. Nicholas” - and the story of giving and love. But she just seemed to look at me as if I was telling her something that she knew wasn’t true. My heart seemed to sink a little bit, and I turned away - wondering why I felt so sad . . .

For Thou art my hope; O Lord God,
Thou art my confidence from my youth . . .
(Psalm 71: 5)

The years just seemed to fall away, and a memory seemed to flood my being. I knew I was about 9 years old, and Christmas just couldn’t come quick enough for me that year! I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to find out what presents I was getting. I had asked for a doll that was just like the one my friends had. She had blond hair that was very long, or short if you pushed the button on her stomach. I loved playing with their dolls, braiding the hair and making them beautiful. So I had written letters with my brothers, and told everyone what I wanted for Christmas! At school, my friends and I talked about Christmas all the time. I guess that’s when I first heard that “Santa Claus” just might not be “real”. One of my friends was sure that it was all just a big story! That day, as I walked home from school, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about what she had said. I pushed the thought way down inside, and pretended that I didn’t hear her. But the truth was - - - I had heard her . . .

Thou art my confidence - from my youth . . .

It was finally Saturday, and Daddy was taking all of us kids in to the city. The boys were dropped off at “Aunties” house, while daddy brought me to piano lessons. I loved going to my piano lessons. Sue was my teacher, and she taught in the living room of her beautiful home. I loved looking around at all the pretty things she had, all from her original home - China. But on this day, all I could think about was what my friend had said earlier in the week. As the lesson went on, my thoughts just weren’t on the notes my teacher was trying to get me to play. Soon, the lesson was over - and my dad was there to pick me up. As I got into the back seat of the car, I waited until my dad started up the car - and then I asked him . . .

“Daddy, is there really a Santa Claus?” I slowly asked. My dad turned around and looked at me, the car sitting right there in front of my teacher’s house. “Well” he said. “Yes, Santa Claus is real.” Then my dad looked at me as if he was going to tell me a really important secret. “Santa Claus is someone who wants to give a gift, but in secret.” “They don’t tell who they are, because Christmas is about giving, and not about getting.” As my daddy talked, I started to wonder about all that he was telling me. “Why daddy, why would someone do that?” My dad smiled at me and said: “Because they love you that much, just like God loves us all so much that He gave us a very special gift - His son Jesus.” My mind was still trying to figure it all, when all of a sudden I knew I understood. “Santa Claus is anyone who gives a gift, but doesn’t get one back?” My dad smiled at me and nodded his head. “This is just between you and me” he said “your brothers are too little to understand.” As he said it, I could feel a big grin spread across my face. My daddy and I had a secret, and it was all about the real story of Santa Claus.

That day, as my dad drove us all home, I felt like I was just starting to understand a big mystery. Truthfully, that is exactly what I was learning. I was starting to learn about the Lord, and about giving . . .

For Thou art my hope; O Lord God,
Thou art my confidence from my youth.
But as for me, I will hope continually,
And will praise Thee yet more and more.
(Psalm 71: 5 & 14)

Hope - I guess that’s what I felt back when my dad was teaching me about the true meaning of Christmas. At that moment, I knew that gifts could come along, without knowing where they came from. It was the beginning of learning one of the hardest lessons in our lives. It was learning about giving - - - and not always receiving . . .

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
The conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1)

As I grew older and got married, the lessons my dad taught me that day seemed to stay close to my heart. I had two little ones that I wanted to teach about giving - and about the love that is represented in Santa Claus. But I wasn’t sure how to go about doing that. Then one fall, my friend Kathy started to watch two little girls who were the same age as our children were. They were beautiful little girls, with long dark hair, just like their mom had. It hurt to know the reason that Kathy was watching them. Their mom had been diagnosed with cancer, and she was undergoing treatment in the hospital. Her long beautiful hair - was soon gone.

When fall got colder, and Thanksgiving came and went, Kathy and I started to talk about helping her friend during Christmas. The girls were at Kathy’s quite a bit, as their mother was very sick from the treatment she was going through. The husband was hoping his wife would be home for Christmas, but he was so busy with working and visiting his wife - that Christmas was going to be a bit difficult for them all. That’s when Kathy and I came up with a plan. We would buy presents, decorate the house and a tree, and have Christmas ready for them - when Julie (not her real name) came home. We took our own children shopping, telling them to pick out the toys they would like. Then we told them that those toys were for some children that needed help. We had the kids help us wrap the presents, and then Kathy and I found a small tree and decorations. It was a week before Christmas, and Julie was finally able to leave the hospital. Her husband and two daughters had gone to Boston to pick her up, not knowing that Christmas was waiting for them - when they got home. We didn’t tell anyone what we had done - but it felt so good to know that they would have a little bit of happiness during this difficult time. I guess I hoped that my children also learned something during that time. It was a time of giving - - - and not about getting . . .

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 13a)

As each of my children got older and started wondering about Santa Claus, I told them the story my dad told me - all those years ago. Sometimes I had to swallow hard, knowing that they were growing older - and leaving behind the wonder and mystery of Christmas.

I guess that’s what I felt when I heard Abby tell me that she didn’t believe in Santa Claus. She had stopped “believing”. But then I started to realize that Christmas is just that - “believing” in the wonder and mystery of a God we cannot see - giving each of us - an amazing gift!

Abby is starting to grow older and learning so much about life around her. She has a mommy and a daddy who are teaching her about loving God, and the true meaning of Christmas. She is a loving and giving little girl. Soon - she will start to learn that the wonder and mystery that surrounds Christmas is more amazing - - - than the story of Santa Claus . . .

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
But the greatest of these - is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 13)

Christmas is a time to celebrate love - and gifts. It is celebrating the greatest gift of all - and yet it is freely given. The gift of true Love, God’s Son, into our lives - brings “hope” for the rest of our lives.

Will you believe? Will you accept God’s gift for you? When you do, your life will be filled with a hope and a belief - in all that God has waiting for you . . .

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; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
(Luke 2: 10 & 11)

God bless you and keep you, as we begin the journey of celebrating the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord.

In His Glorious Name,

Debbie and Ted Ayers


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