Friends and Miracles
As many of you know, I’m not much into the whole Santa Claus part of Christmas. I’m not in the vehement camp of “Santa is an evil lie we should not perpetrate on our children!” (OK, well, being honest here, not anymore) but neither do we play make-believe with our children that maybe a jolly man is going to sneak into our house and leave gifts.
But the spirit of Christmas miracles is alive and well in our house. More years than not, we have feared there would be nothing under the tree on the morning of December 25th, but this year was particularly precarious, given unforeseen increases in our expenses that outstripped our two modest incomes—even with a generous raise that should be taking effect for me soon. In the early weeks of December, we had not even thought about Christmas shopping, because the core of my being will not allow for pleasantries when the bills aren’t paid.
I tried my best not to fret too loudly in public (pronounced “on Facebook”) about this. After all we had a fair number of other things going on at this time, like extensive medical testing for me that has thankfully ruled out a second autoimmune disease. But the subject of Christmas presents came up, and somewhere in a thread of comments, I mentioned it was painful but likely we’d have no gifts for my kids this year.
Then the miracle…no, miracles, happened. Through an intermediary friend, a group of anonymous philanthropists put their resources together to ensure we could afford to brighten Christmas morning for our boys. This was totally unexpected and made me actually shed tears on my business trip this past week. And on top of this awesome act of generosity, I discovered the trip I took was a paid training…another dose of the unexpected that gave us the flexibility to give our kids each one thing they’ve been truly dreaming of but assuming would never happen. (To illustrate this, my middle child’s Christmas list consisted of two items: “Whatever we can afford” and “Time with our family.” How excited he’ll be to get these AND his very first bow and arrows.)
On top of all this, family generosity is going to help us recover from the necessary expenditure of traveling to my father-in-law’s funeral before Thanksgiving. So all in all, I am feeling much less overwhelmed as we close out December.
And so, as we reflect on the incomparable gift God gave us in his Son this Christmas, I am deeply grateful for the way friends far and near have helped us to shoulder the burden of financial distress. We had no means of our own to overcome the shortfall, just as we have no spiritual means of overcoming the falling short that comes of sin. My friends, whether they realized it or not, painted a beautiful abstraction of the way God reaches into our lives and supplies the spiritual riches we have no hope of generating, no matter how hard we strive.
To each of you who has touched our lives this Christmas to show your love for us. I offer my thanks. I am humbled and overjoyed to be able to spend this short time standing straighter for my lessened load. You have served as a winsome reflection of unwarranted grace.Merry Christmas to all of you. I pray to one day be able to serve others how you have served me.