I’m thinking of a family that makes my heart hurt. I don’t know them well, but I do know that this December marks the first Christmas without their beloved child who passed away this year.
What can I do with this burdened heart, but pray?
So, my friend and I pray.
Although it can be hard to believe in goodness when pain is prevalent, this praying has planted seeds of hope into the soft flesh of our hearts —
hope that this family’s Christmas would indeed have joy wrapped inside of it; and
hope that, in some way, we could contribute to that joy.
These seeds have continued to root and grow, until one day last week…
It was a crisp December afternoon and the sun was shining. I had only two hours left before the kids would come home from school.
Standing at my desk, I reviewed the hectic holiday schedule scribbled throughout my agenda and breathed a tired sigh, wondering which activities could be axed in an effort to retain at least a splinter of my sanity.
Then, unexpected and uninvited, an idea pushed its way forward from the back of my mind — past the cookies that needed to be baked, past the mental note to treat my son’s wart, past the half assembled grocery list — until it reached priority status in my cerebrum.
I gasped, dropping my pen.
I looked up at the bright red Christmas decor adorning my pantry cupboard and grinned.
For the next fifteen minutes, I feverishly pulled together the details of my brilliant plan, certain that I had heard from God.
Alas, surety is fickle.
An inner battle ensued. Roaring inside my head, like a lion defending its territory, I heard a familiar voice. His name is Doubt.
This is a dumb idea. Why would God ask me to give someone my Christmas decorations?
What if they don’t match these people’s decor?
Am I being thoughtful or intrusive?
Who am I to send a note of encouragement to them? Surely they have less awkward people in their lives who could offer support in this difficult time.
I’m being presumptuous, impulsive.
Doubt is a bully. He grips my head in his gnarly hands and snarls his filthy lies into my ear, attempting to drown out that still, small voice that leads to real Life and Joy.
Doubt is a killer. He chips away at my faith until I throw the entire God-given opportunity into the trash.
But, I’m learning to fight back!
As of four years ago, I refuse to stifle the quiet whisper of the One who calls to me, who graciously allows me to partner with Him in acts of pure love. (You can read the heart-warming story of how I learned that lesson here.)
Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
— Isaiah 30:21 (NLT)
Did I hear you, Lord? Is this your idea? Or did I make up this whole plan?
I finally decided that if my idea wasn’t offensive and my motive was love, what was the worst that could happen if I followed through?
I packed the gift into a used cardboard shipping box and added a card.
When the kids got home from school, my crafty middle child drew a Christmas polar bear picture to place inside the box. We wrapped the package, complete with curly ribbon, and moved on to phase two: delivery mission.
Several minutes later, three stealthy ninja children dropped the Christmas Love Bomb on the unsuspecting family’s doorstep, rang the doorbell, and then sprinted back to the car where I was waiting. We whooped and giggled the whole drive home.
The joy in our hearts was proof that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
I may never know, this side of heaven, whether this gift was really God’s idea or mine. I believe, however, that good will come of it because we gave what we could in faith, knowing that God would take our “little” and turn it into something beautiful.
But, wait. What about the years when we’re the ones in pain at Christmastime and there’s nothing left inside of us to give away to others?
What if this year, you are the one who is hurting, lonely, homeless and hopeless? If this is you today, please believe me when I say that God knows you perfectly and understands everything you’re going through.
And please accept my prayer for you, the same prayer I wrote in the Christmas Bomb card last week:
Take courage! Hold fast to the promise that God is good and He will not disappoint.
I BELIEVE that I shall look upon the GOODNESS of the LORD in the land of the living!
— Psalm 27:13 (ESV)
If you enjoyed this post, pass it on! I’d love for you to share this encouragement with others. Thank you!
With much love,
Sara Jane Kehler