Thursday, December 24th

I Knew You Would Come…

Herman and I locked our general store and dragged ourselves home. It was 11:00 P.M., Christmas Eve of 1949. We were dog tired. We had sold almost all of our toys; and all the layaways, except one package, had been picked up.

Usually we kept the store open until everything had been claimed. We wouldn’t have woken up happy on Christmas knowing that some child’s gift was still on the layaway shelf. But the person who had put a dollar down on that package never returned. Early Christmas morning we and our twelve-year-old son, Tom, opened gifts. But I’ll tell you, there was something humdrum about this Christmas. Tom was growing up; I missed his childish exuberance of past years.

As soon as breakfast was over Tom left to visit his friend next door. Herman mumbled, ” I’m going back to sleep. There’s nothing left to stay up for.” So there I was alone, feeling let down. And then it began, A strange, persistent urge. It seemed to be telling me to go to the store. I looked at the sleet and icy side walk outside. That’s crazy, I said to myself. I tried dismissing the urge, but it wouldn’t leave me alone. In fact, it was getting stronger. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I got dressed.

Outside, the wind cut right through me and the sleet stung my cheeks. I groped my way to the store, slipping and sliding. In front stood two boys, one about nine, and the other six. What in the world?? “See, I told you she would come!” the older boy said jubilantly. The younger one’s face was wet with tears, but when he saw me, his sobbing stopped.

“What are you two doing out here?” I scolded, hurrying them into the store. “You should be home on a day like this!” They were poorly dressed. They had no hats or gloves, and their shoes barely held together. I rubbed their icy hands, and got them up close to the heater.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” replied the older boy. “My little brother Jimmy didn’t get any Christmas.” He touched Jimmy’s shoulder. “We want to buy some skates. That’s what he wants. We have these three dollars,” he said, pulling the bills from is pocket.

I looked at the money. I looked at the expectant faces. And then I looked around the store. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but we have no—” Then my eye caught sight of the layaway shelf with its lone package. “Wait a minute,” I told the boys. I walked over, picked up the package, unwrapped it and, miracle of miracles, there was a pair of skates! Jimmy reached for them. Lord let them be his size. And miracle added upon miracle, they were his size.

The older boy presented the dollars to me. “No,” I told him, “I want you to have these skates, and I want you to use your money to get some gloves.” The boys just blinked at first. Then their eyes became like saucers, and their grins stretched wide when they understood I was giving them the skates. What I saw in Jimmy’s eyes was a blessing. It was pure joy, and It was beautiful. My spirits rose. We walked out together, and as I locked the door, I turned to the older brother and said, “How did you know I would come?”

I wasn’t prepared for his reply. His gaze was steady, and he answered me softly. “I ask Jesus to send you.” The tingles in my spine weren’t from the cold. God had planned this. As we waved good-by, I turned home to a brighter Christmas.

When it comes right down to it – all that we celebrate on Christmas is the gift of God’s love, freely given, for us – who will always be beggars at the throne of God’s grace.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, tonight we join those who have so long walked in deep darkness, waiting for the promise of Light. We join those who marvel at the birth of Jesus. We gather in the darkness, knowing of the darkness of life, but trusting in the power of love to come to us, to work through us, for the sake of all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

3 Responses to “Thursday, December 24th”

  1. LaNita Says:

    Happy Christmas, Pastor Kerry. Thank you for your ministry!

  2. Wanjiru Mwangi Says:

    What an amazing experience!

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