This morning I was thinking about past Christmases when my children were young. I remembered how often I had to trust God to provide presents for the four kids. We were in a faith ministry and our income was solely from donations that were sporadic and interesting, to say the least. I was learning to trust God as Provider and I wanted my trust to be real and not just words. God was very glad to let me experience trusting Him for almost everything, including Christmas. (I’ve published more stories of God’s faithfulness in Jesus Never Fails)
As I looked back at those Christmas memories, I pondered both how difficult it was to not be able to go out and buy lots of presents (we did not use credit), but also the blessings that came from seeing God do little “miracles.” Today those grown children and their children, and most of the people I know, find it fairly easy to buy presents. Perhaps in the future times may get hard again, but for now most of us have enough to do our own Christmas, plus extra for those we don’t know who are needy.
As I pondered the little “miracles” that happened long ago, I was blessed again. I remembered that during that time, the kids were learning, too. My heart was filled with joy that God took care of us so well while at the same time using what most would call “difficulties” to build character and gratefulness into my children.
The first year we were raising support to go on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (1976), in early December I gave the kids a catalog and told them, “You can pick out anything you want up to $15. Even though this was the 70’s, that was a very small amount for most families. But as far as I could see, the kids were excited to find their $15 worth. Jodi and I still remember what she picked out that year—a snow white stuffed dog and her puppy. I think it was a character from a movie.
The Christmas we lived in Florida, we were not able to travel home to Tennessee. I remember that Bob got a Honda Kick and Go Scooter that he wanted. I don’t remember how it was provided, but I do remember it was way out of our price-range.
Teenagers are a different story, as most of us know. Their tastes run far above the $15 range. So the kids learned to pray for some of the special things they wanted, like Izod shirts and Guess jeans. When Jodi wanted Guess Jeans, the rage that year and for people like us very expensive, I told her that she could probably get them, but that would be all. She was pleased to find two pair on Christmas day—one pair from us and one from her Grandma in Tennessee. It seemed to me that she was very grateful.
One Christmas season after Greg said he wanted an Izod shirt (also too expensive for our budget), we told him to ask Jesus for it. On Christmas day, he received three Izod shirts that we had not paid for. He saw that God even provided special things sometimes.
Another Christmas, Jim and Bob wanted to go to a CCC Christmas conference for students. This would involve travel, food, hotel and conference. They wrote a letter and asked some of our dear supporters, to help them go. Both received enough money to go to the conference.
These Christmas memories are heart-warming to look back upon because I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness to provide, His great love for us added to sending Jesus, and affirmation that He is always working in our circumstances. These four kids, now grown and parents themselves, love and trust Jesus, exhibit grateful hearts, have a good balance of the importance of people over things and have passed on the lessons they picked up while growing up with limited finances.
God’s blessings come wrapped in so many different kinds of packages. Merry Christmas 2012
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28