Yesterday my sister, Sharon called. She was sharing her favorite Christmas was when she was seven years old. I was silent, while listening. She explained it was the year I wrote and directed a play for our parents, which us three siblings performed; The Birth of Christ. I chuckled, as I too vividly recall that play.
With towels on our heads and around our bodies and a laundry basket crib with Sharon’s doll baby as Jesus, we had Joseph and Mary, but only one lone “wise man.” Because we were poor, even at my young age of 11, I desired our family realize the true meaning of Christmas. Sharon also described the gifts each of us received, always one gift per child. Because we had no grandparents, aunts or uncles that gave gifts, our “sole” gift was for the duration of the year. Birthday gifts were seldom a component of the celebrations. If Mom baked a cake, that was our “gift.”
Sharon remembered the gifts of that Christmas, for her a doll, my brother a football and I a coat. A coat? My gift was seldom a desire, but always a necessity which my parents should have provided. I recall one year the gift was a single pair of pajamas, another year underwear. Yet, as I watched my two siblings open gifts with glee and delight, I often wondered why mine didn’t include “gifts of desire” but only of necessity.
I learned at a young age, my mother didn’t love me, but tolerated me. The once a year “gift of necessity” was a reminder of my role in the family. Yet, how grateful I am that in the early years of my life, God showed His love for me. Over the years, I’ve offered my testimony countless times, “without God” I could not have endured the challenges of my life. Even though I’m frequently queried “how have you made it?”, “But for God” I readily proclaim.
I couldn’t have tolerated these past eight years of incredible isolation if not for the knowledge that “God is with me, in the good times and bad.” I begin each day reading a devotion from my favorite evangelist, Chuck Swindoll. As I stumble for my glasses while stepping into my warm slippers, I know Chuck’s words will be an encouragement for the day. Even though my days include ladies’ bible studies and additional bible and inspirational reading, God’s words through Chuck will be my “coffee” for the day.
However, as I continue to “cry out” to God for a friend; to talk to, to share things with, God gently whispers, “I’m here, the friend you had when you were 11 and younger. I’m here, the friend you had when your parents discarded you. I’m here now and forever.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJ, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”