It is a chilly winter’s night here in Indian Trail, NC. There is a feeling in the air of Christmas, as it is December 22. My three children squabble daily over who is going to update the ‘days until Christmas’ bear we have in our kitchen. That bear holds two wooden blocks that display the countdown to the big day. We are down to three days, and the excitement in their eyes is magical. What can be better than the awe and wonder in a child’s eyes at Christmas?
Somehow the adult in me had gotten too wrapped up in the whole ‘gift’ part of this celebration…no pun intended! I began to feel heavyhearted that we were unable to give our children as many gifts as they were used to getting, or as ‘good’ of gifts as previous years. As I type that I am humbled and saddened to have fallen prey to the good ole’ American standard of what Christmas has become. After all, we have pretty much lost Thanksgiving, as the mad rush to get to the stores to knock off those Christmas wish lists has taken a higher priority.
But these two beautiful celebrations do go hand in hand. What more is there to be thankful for than the living God coming to our Earth in the form of His precious Son? In fact, a spirit of thanksgiving should never leave our hearts. We should cling tightly to gratitude at all times, no matter what. In the face of darkness and hardship is when we need it most. And every day is a celebration of Jesus’ birth, for without His life, there would be no hope at all in this mess of a world. To look at Jesus is to see the light of life eternal.
It would be this very night that God would gently remind me to consider the most precious and critical gift that the Nelson family had recently received….
It was two weeks ago when my husband Grant would be heading home on a two-lane highway in his patrol car, in the ‘middle of nowhere’ as he called it. He had taken a class for work and had just completed the final test. He called to tell us that he was on his way home and that we would see him in about two hours. Even now I cannot recall the name of the town, despite the fact that he told me more than once. My selective hearing kicks in from time to time and I distinctly recall that day just wanting him home. The class took almost three weeks and it had been an exhausting process for him.
I was surprised when he called back about ten minutes later. His voice was clearly different, as if he was shaking and I could feel it through the phone. He went on to share that he had been traveling along with his cruise control set to 65-70mph. There was no one on the road as far as he could tell. He suddenly noticed a house off in the huge open field to his left. There was nothing else out there, besides trees and land. Something inside of him felt a sudden urge to check out that house. He said it reminded him of a house he knew as a young boy. Before he knew it, he was slowing down to see where there might be a road or path to lead to it.
Now Grant is an on time and scheduled kind of guy, so even as he was telling this unlikely story, I knew that God had directed his thoughts and actions. My heart was racing with every word he spoke.
He distinctly recalled looking at his speedometer and being at about 30mph when he saw a windy road, but as he approached it, he could see that it very strangely veered off in another direction and did not actually lead to the house. He decided not to turn off the highway after all. With that, he began to speed up again to continue on home when he found himself looking ahead at an eighteen wheel semi-truck barreling over a blind hill directly in his oncoming lane of traffic. This truck was passing another truck coming the opposite direction as Grant, and chose to make this unsafe maneuver coming over a blind hill at a high rate of speed. Grant had to swerve out of the way even at his slower speed to avoid getting hit head-on by this semi. It was in the same instant that Grant said that he realized that if he had been traveling that road as he had been at 65-70mps, then he would have met that truck right at the top of that blind hill and his police car would have been demolished in an instant. There is no way he would have survived that accident. He saw God’s hand of providence save him that day when he was led to slow down in curiosity over that house. There is no other answer for it. What a gift.
What could have been the most devastating and horrible day for our family, turned into one of the greatest and most valuable gifts we could have ever received. Grant was saved and lived to share more days with us. We held on to him tighter than ever when he got home. Sometimes the greatest blessing is to be reminded of the blessings that you already have.
And so as my children and I sat tonight watching a Christmas movie on TV, I had finally surrendered that feeling of ‘not enough’ in regards to Christmas gifts for our children to the Lord. My mother had blessed us financially so that we were able to get each child a nice gift, and that was more than enough. There are so many children who have little to nothing. After all, my children had their dad and I had my husband. Perspective is a powerful thing.
So when our doorbell rang close to 8pm tonight, I wondered who it could be. As I opened the door there was a man standing there whom I had never met. He came bearing gifts wrapped in beautiful Christmas paper and bows. He asked if ours was the Nelson home, and went on to deliver gifts to each and every one of us. I tried to ask his name, or from whom the gifts were given. He would have none of that. He wished our family a Merry Christmas and got in his car and drove away, leaving me speechless and full of tears in his wake. My children were full of awe and wonder at the whole mystery of it all. They danced around our Christmas tree and marveled at the unexpected boxes which now sparkled brightly with their names. It was an event that we will always remember, and it touched us deeply. Nathan exclaimed, “This is the best Christmas ever!”…and Caleb followed with, “God chose us Mom.” Yep…God chose us.
Real gifts come in all sorts of forms. Some cannot be placed under a tree, and some can. In the end, the best gifts of all come from the heart of God. I want to thank the person or persons responsible for the hope and love you poured on me and my family tonight. Thank you for your selfless and giving actions, and thank you for being willing to be used by God to bless another. May the blessings be returned to you in greater measure. We will always be grateful.
And thank you Lord God for the gift of family. Hold the ones you love close tonight, and always.
Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Birthday Jesus.