Written by Gary Piper
Christmas is a time of miracles. But the miracles of Christmas are not what they seem to be. The real miracles of Christmas are not the presents under the tree they’re the presence of the love and gratefulness of giving and receiving, the presence of Jesus’ story filling our lives with joy and hope, the undeniable fact that we are worthy of God’s unconditional love and our ultimate worth, and last but not least the undeniable fact that God stepped out of eternity and walked the earth as we do.
The story that follows is a story of God continuing to cross the boundaries of Infinity and finiteness. While it is a product of my imagination in many ways, I suspect you’ll discover an element of true because the miracles of Christmas are still not only the bigger part of giving and receiving of gifts but of your life as well.
You’ll not find God’s gifts at Christmas time (nor any time) wrapped up and placed under a tree; you’ll find them wrapped up and carefully and lovingly placed under the hard life-toughened surface of your heart waiting to be unwrapped and unleashed.
“Boy it sure is getting cold the last few mornings,” Geoffrey commented as he and Sarah stepped from a warm house into the fresh December air. “Just think in a couple of days it will be Christmas!”
“Christmas! I don’t care if it ever gets here this year,” Sarah remarked trying to adjust to the colder air.
“You don’t mean that do you, Ms. Scrooge do you?”
“Yes I do! You have no idea how my life has been this past year! You’re not me so you can’t know and don’t say you do,” she snapped back!
“Oops, sorry honey,” Geoffrey apologized getting into the car.
Seconds later the car roared to life. No one said a word as the car back out of the carport. After reaching the end of the driveway, Geoffrey waited for traffic to clear. “Boy sure is a lot of cars this morning.”
Seconds later, “Hey! Isn’t one of you dummy’s going to let me in?”
“They can’t hear you Geoffrey so just be quiet and wait!”
“I know they can’t hear me but I can still get my two cents in,” echoed the gruff reply!
“Just be quiet and drive the car,” Sarah said, sounding gruffer!
Mumbling to himself, “Grumpy!”
“What’d you say?”
“I said hold on to your hat here we go,” suddenly the engine sped up, a little dirt flew and the car was heading south.
“I’m sorry honey I know the year hasn’t gone well for you this year and I things have been hard on you. I just wish there was something I could do to help you through it all,” Geoffrey replied not looking at his wife.
“Do you know that I’m carrying everyone’s burdens? I’ve got so much responsibility for everyone else I don’t have time for myself! I’m just tired that’s all but it’ll pass it always does,” she answered trying to hold back the tears.
After a few moments her voice broken the silence, “You call me Ms. Scrooge but I’m not like Scrooge he was selfish and kept all to himself. I wish I could be like him. I wish someone would give me my life back.”
Geoffrey’s mind drifted back to Christmas 2000 then back to Christmas 1999 then back to Christmas 1998 then back to Christmas 1997, and even back further. “When was the last time we had a peaceful year?” he asked himself. He couldn’t remember.
Breaking the silence again, “Someday I’d like to get something instead of giving all the time,” Sarah began, “I don’t mean to sound selfish but I can’t keep giving and giving without getting something myself. But, oh well maybe someday someone will appreciate me.”
Suddenly anger began to swell up inside Geoffrey and he found himself at war, a war of emotions. He felt so bad for his wife,” She’s such a wonderful person and deserves so much more,” he said to himself.
“How can people and your own loved ones be so selfish and inconsiderate,” he said aloud, not meaning to.
“What’d you say?”
“You said something what was it?”
“It doesn’t matter honey I was just thinking out loud.”
“I want to know what you said,” Sarah shot back!
“They’re personal thoughts and I don’t really mean anything anyway.”
“I told you we never communicate. You always say we don’t share each others feelings enough.”
“Okay,” Geoffrey interrupted, “I said how can people and your own loved ones can be so selfish and inconsiderate. There are you happy now?”
“Well you don’t need to talk that way!”
“See I told you they were personal thoughts.”
Again, silence filled the car. “And don’t start with that religious crap either,” Sarah said sarcastically!
“Hey wait a minute! I didn’t say a word; ya got a guilty conscience or something?”
Still fighting the tears, “Yes I do! But who cares anyway?”
“Be sides I didn’t say a word!”
“But now that you brought it up God does love you!”
“He does not,” Sarah quickly replied, with tears in both eyes.
“He does too.”
“I know you love me because you are always showing me and treating like you do. I know you’d make it easier for me if you could because I know you love me. God does not love me because he does not show it!”
“How am I going to answer this one?” Geoffrey asked himself
“What’s the matter Reverend Lawson? Can’t answer me can you? I’ve poured my heart out to God and all I get is more heartache. God does not love Sarah Lawson! Maybe he did at one time but he doesn’t now and I don’t know what I did to turn him off to me,” Sarah’s voice was filled with anger.
“Think fast Geoffrey,” he said to himself, “You can’t let this drop. Let me see I could use John 3:16. What parable could I use?”
Sarah interrupted her husbands thoughts, “And don’t quote any scriptures to me all they are, are just words on paper for other people not for me.”
“Oh, wait a minute,” she continued, “There is one for me I don’t know where you can find it but it goes something like this, and “God’s Spirit will not always strive with the children of men. I think that applies to women too or at least this woman!”
After a few moments of silence, “Well preacher I’m waiting for an answer.”
But he didn’t have one. “I know God loves her. But I also know how she feels because at times I don’t think his Spirit is with me either. But how can I illustrate to her that he does love her?” he questioned himself.
“I know when we go off on our own God sometimes just follows us and waits for us to discover we’re not where we’re supposed to be. But my god! I’ve gone the extra mile! I have sacrificed to those we love I know sometimes I do it grudgingly but not in my heart. How much more do I need to give in order to prove I love him? How much?” her voice was filled with pain.
After a brief pause she continued, “I know there are many more people in the world with bigger more important burdens than mine but don’t mine mean anything to God? I’m not asking for anyone else’s share of his love only what’s due me. Why? Why do I feel this way, Geoffrey? Please tell me. Please give me an answer.”
Suddenly Geoffrey slowed the car and turned onto a side street. “Where ya going?” she asked.
“We’re going to park along the river by the Blue Water Bridge and work through this,” he replied
“But you’ll be late for work!” she replied.
After a brief pause Geoffrey said, “Right now there are more important things than making money. You may not believe this but you have brought up a lot of questions I have been asking myself. I’m no Billy Graham or Max Lucado; I don’t have all the answers to your questions. I can’t even answer them for myself!”
“You aren’t going to have a pity party are you? This isn’t about you it’s about me!” she replied.
“It’s about us Sarah! You and I and probably millions of others who feel the same way! And this is too important for a pity party. It isn’t about all the stress we’re under, it isn’t about you assuming responsibility for others and burning out, it’s about God and our individual relationships with him and our marital relationship with him. He loves you! He loves me! He loves us! Somehow we’ve got to believe that even if it appears like he doesn’t,” Geoffrey answered.
“I knew I’d get you on that pulpit! I just knew it! And you’re wrong it is about burnout. It is about stress!”
“Do you remember the song, “I never promised you a rose garden there hast to be a little rain some day,” Geoffrey asked?
“Yeah I remember it,” she replied.
“Who wrote it?” he asked.
“Who wrote it? How am I supposed to know?” she shot back.
“Who wrote it?” Geoffrey asked sternly!
“Lynn Anderson? Yes it was her,” Sarah sounding confident.
“Wrong!” Geoffrey replied
“Okay smarty! Who then?” Sarah quickly responded.
“Jesus wrote it!” was Geoffrey’s quick answer.
“Jesus!” Sarah questioned.
“Yup. In this life you will have trials he said!” he replied.
“So!” Sarah responded
“So! When you walk across a carpet and build up static electricity what happens?” Geoffrey smiled.
“Where you going with this?” Sarah face had a puzzled look on it.
“Don’t worry just give me an answer,” replied confidently
“I’ll get an electrical poke when I touch the door knob!” her voice was getting louder.
“Right, you will but does that stop you from going out the door?” he asked.
“No but I as I reach for the door knob my body gets ready for the poke,” Sarah’s voice was starting to calm down.
Pulling the car into a parking spot Geoffrey put the gear shifter to park and turned off the motor. “Why should life be any different? If you knew life wasn’t going to be easy what would you do?”
“I guess I would prepare myself,” she answered.
Turning and looking her in he eyes, “Okay, as you touch the door knob do you blame the carpet manufacturer, the door knob manufacturer, or the shoe maker?”
“No they’re not a fault,” she replied sternly.
“Exactly! Just like it isn’t God’s fault that life isn’t easy,” he responded.
“But God could make it easier for me,” she replied in a much calmer voice.
“He didn’t make it easier for Jesus. What makes you, me or anyone else for that matter any better than Jesus?” he asked.
“I hate it when you start making sense. It makes me feel so inferior,” she replied.
“It’s not about you or me Sarah it’s about us. You’re you and I’m me that’s what makes our marriage so good where I’m weak you’re strong and where you’re weak I’m strong. It’s about us the Holy Spirit and Jesus!” Geoffrey exclaimed.
“It’s just hard for me I guess. Come on its time for you to get to work we can’t afford a short paycheck,” she replied looking at her watch.
“But we aren’t finished yet,” Geoffrey shot back.
“Yes we are, at least for now. Get the car started and let’s get going,” Sarah said without looking up.
“You’re right about one thing,” Geoffrey said starting the car.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“We’re not dropping this,” he replied.
Looking at the river, she answered back, “I am trying to understand what you’re saying but I still think God doesn’t love me. All life is to me is one big burden! It shouldn’t be!”
Both sat in silence as the car roared down Edison Parkway. “And don’t start on me about going to church and discovering God’s love there,” Sarah said.
“Boy you won’t get a sermon from me on that! I don’t find God there either!” Geoffrey said in return.
“Why is that?” Sarah asked.
“Why is what?” he asked.
“Why can’t we find God in church? I go there looking for some help, any help and can’t find any. Can you see why I think God doesn’t love me? Everyone else seems to find the love they need in church. Why can’t I?” tears again were forming in her eyes.
Geoffrey tried to think of an answer but once again Sarah hit a nerve and an emptiness settled deep inside was all he could feel. “I don’t know Sarah, I really don’t know.”
“We sure make a pair don’t we,” she said trying to sound a little more upbeat.
“Yeah, two peas in a pod,” Geoffrey said back. Sarah reached down and turned up the volume on the radio hoping to take her mind off the events transpiring as the day moved on.
No one spoke the rest of the way into Geoffrey’s work place. Pulling into the driveway Geoffrey stopped the car in front of the entrance. Put the car in park, unlocked the back doors, opened his door, and got out. Just as he reached for his lunch bucket and thermos, Sarah was rounding the back of the car headed for the driver’s door. “Try to have a good day, honey,” he said as he kissed her on the cheek.
“Yeah, right! You have a good day too,” she replied getting into the car.
Watching the car drive away, Geoffrey uttered a silent prayer, “Please God don’t be to hard on her, and help her discover the truth and help me discover the truth of your love for us.” Walking through the gate, he felt as if a big monster was swallowing him.
Pulling back in the driveway Sarah sighed deeply, “Boy I sure would like to be heading for the Smoky Mountains right about now.”
Entering the quiet house taking her coat off she headed for the bedroom to get a pillow. “Might as well lay down for awhile,” she talking aloud. Within minutes, she was fast asleep.
About an hour later a voice rang out, “Sarah.”
“Who? What? Go away,” she responded not wanting to wake up.
“Sarah, wake up,” the voice said.
“Who are you any way,” Sarah answered back not opening her eyes.
“You better open your eyes.”
“Oh alright! But I’m still tired,” she said getting a little irritated.
Opening her eyes and immediately became frightened. Standing in the middle of the living room was a man resembling an angel his long flowing hair hung on his robe. “Do not be frightened,” the figure quickly replied, “I mean you no harm and only wish to talk to you.”
At first, she was frightened but when she saw the soft glowing light that surrounded him, she was immediately felt at peace. Wwwhhhhooo are you?” she asked again.
“I am the Christmas Angel and I have been sent to you to tell you that you will go on a journey with the Holy Spirit today so do not be frightened when it happens just be ready,” the angel replied.
It was almost as if time had stopped for Sarah and it seemed as if the room had disappeared. Before she could respond to the man, he was gone! “Was I dreaming?” she spoke aloud.
At first, she wanted to call someone and tell them what had happened. Instead, she said to herself, “I’m not telling anyone! Who’d believe me anyway? A Christmas Angel visiting Sarah Lawson! Nah! I dreamt the whole thing but boy it sure seemed real.”
Trying to put incident out of her mind she put her pillow away and made the bed. Got herself dressed and went toward the kitchen stopping in the living room long enough to turn on the television. Opening the refrigerator, she reached for the milk, walked over to the cupboard, and got out a glass for the milk.
Suddenly the picture of the angel flashed through her mind, “What if I wasn’t sleeping? What if it were real?” she asked herself.
“What was it he told me?” she asked herself getting a glass of milk.
Instantly the voice echoed through her mind, “You will journey with the Holy Spirit today do not be frightened when it happens just be ready.” As words faded into the sounds coming from the television, she knew she hadn’t been dreaming. Instantly she could feel herself tensing as she anticipated what would happen now. But as just fast, as the tension hit her it left her with a strange sense of peace.
In the great eternal world beyond time and space the Creator looked at his Son and smiled, “Send the first revelation,” his voice boomed across the throne room.
Moving faster than the speed of light the Holy Spirit passed through the barrier dividing time and eternity. Suddenly a blinding flash of white light blinded Sarah causing her to drop her glass of milk. Feeling a sensation of moving she wanted to call out to someone but she couldn’t. Her lips moved but no sound came out of her mouth. “What’s happening to me,” she said to herself.
“Merry Christmas Sarah,” she heard a familiar woman’s voice say.
“That sounds like mother’s voice,” she tried to say. As the light subsided, she began to see a living room.
“It is mother,” she exclaimed, “But what’s happened she has looked that way in years!” Next, her eyes were drawn to a little girl standing in front of an artificial Christmas tree.
Instantly she reacted, “That’s me! That’s me! That’s me!” Suddenly for what seemed like the first time in her life, she experienced real love. Gazing into the nineteen-month-old little girl, she saw happiness. A hush fell over the room.
Breaking the silence a voice echoed across the room, “This is your first Christmas following your adoption. Do you feel the love of your parents?”
With tears streaming down her cheeks, “Yes,” she answered.
“My love for you is a million times a million more,” and room fell silent again.
The room disappeared in another blinding flash of light. As her vision returned she found herself in a hospital delivery room. It was her lying in the bed. She cringed as she once again felt the pains of giving birth.
The same voice called out, “Behold! The birth of your first son,” with that, she watched as the miracle of birth unfolded. Love began swelling up and brought tears again to her eyes.
“Do you feel a mothers love?” the voice asked?
“Yes,” she answered.
“My love for you is a million times a million more,” and room fell silent.
Never in her life had Sarah felt so much peace. Instantly she found herself standing on a mountain. Looking around she realized she was standing on Clingman’s Dome but she didn’t see Tennessee.
“Behold the sea of your life,” the voice rang out again.
Looking down she noticed pockets of storms dotting the scene. She could see the lightning flashing. She could hear the thunder rolling across the sky. She could hear the cold winds howling. She could see the driving rain and the dark clouds. But strangely and mysteriously the sea was calm, there were no waves, no whirlpools just a mirror like surface.
“The storms of life come and go but my spirit has always calmed the waters you journey on. Do not fear my Spirit will always be with you so when you find storms raging in your life put your trust in me.”
In another blinding flash of light, the scene opening her eyes Sarah found herself standing in the kitchen looking at a broken glass on the floor. But she wasn’t the same Sarah that dropped the glass moments ago. Deep inside she knew she’d never be the same again.
Walking to the phone, she picked it up and called Geoffrey at work. “Sally, let me speak to the boss,” she said.
“You have reached the voice mail of Geoffrey Lawson. I am away from my desk right now but if you leave a message, I’ll call you back as soon as I can. Thank you and have a great day,” the message said.
“Hi honey it’s just me. I wanted to tell you I know God loves me. No need to call me back I’ll see ya later. I love you.”
As she hung up the phone, she heard a voice saying, “Merry Christmas Sarah.”