I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Christmas Gift”

 

The Christmas Gift

The doors fly open and the sale is on. Crowds by the hundreds push, shove, and trample others to get to the discounted merchandise. One woman shoves another with a face masked in anger, “That one is mine!” she yells as she shoves another woman to the side.

The police stand outside the doors to try to control the crowd, to no avail. “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” is playing on the intercom and yet no one notices. They’re focused on the goodies that might make a distant relative like them just a little more or for a family member that insisted that item is the only thing they want under the Christmas tree.

A Man stands back from the crowd and watches. Disgust is on His face. He listens to the piped in music and shakes His head in wonder. His thoughts are sad for He is watching the commercialization of His birth; the birth of the Creator of the World who came and died so that these greedy people could fill their baskets with all that will be tossed out within weeks.

A woman stops, she tilts her head slightly to the side as she listens to the song, “Oh Come all Ye Faithful.” She sees the Man standing off to the side and approaches Him. “Hello.” She says sadly.

He looks at her with sad eyes and replies, “Hello.” He nods toward the pushing and shoving people and asks, “Why aren’t you out there with them?”

She looks out over the crowd and then back to Him. “I came for one item because we don’t have much money.” A tear forms in her eyes and escapes. She swipes it away quickly and continues, “I hear the music, the Christmas carols being played, and looking out at these people, I realized I was just like them. I would have fought anyone or anything to get the one gift I came for.”

“But now?” The Man asks interested.

“But now I have learned better. I have four children and watching these people has made me realize this isn’t what I want to teach them. I’m not perfect and I do a lot of things wrong but I want to teach my children that the greatest gift ever given at Christmas was Jesus.”

Before the Man can reply someone slams into her and growls, “Get out of the way woman!” She is almost knocked off her feet and the Man grabs her arm to steady her and guides her out the door.

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Luke 2:11 – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

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I’m sure many of us have witnessed the crowds during the Christmas season. I have seen a fight break out over a parking space, the pushing and shoving, and angry customers. It seems we are so focused on getting just the right gift for friends, family, or colleagues that we forget what Christmas is about. This story reminds me of the Bible story of two sisters; Mary and Martha. Jesus shows up and one is rushing about in a frantic panic while the other sits at Jesus feet. Aren’t we doing much the same during the Christmas season? We rush, we cook for days, we slave over getting the house clean, and by the time Christmas Day arrives we’re exhausted and can’t enjoy the time with friends or family!  And then there are also those organizations that want to render this holy day as nothing more than just another holiday where people get a day off from work. The merchants begin touting Christmas trees and decorations along with Halloween costumes. And they do it because we, the public, buy their merchandise right along with the Halloween costumes in our shopping carts. But at the same time, there are those of us that sit back, listen to the Christmas carols, and relax!  We don’t stress over what gift to buy, we don’t cook for days on end, and we stay away from the crowds at the Malls. Our simple decorations is a Manger scene and maybe a Christmas tree in the corner. No, we aren’t Mr. Scrooge! Our focus is on the real meaning of Christmas, a child is born, and His name is Jesus, God in the manger. That’s what Christmas is about! He is the greatest gift anyone will ever receive! Are you Mary or Martha? Are you focused on the commercialization of the most holy day or are you sitting at the feet of our Lord and Savor?

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The Stone lies Dead

“Sin hinders the clarity of the Lord. Ye who walk in the ways of the world, your ears shall be closed to His truth. Eyes are blinded, lips parched, for there is no Living Water flowing from your well.

Let not your hearts be turned to stone for stones reveal only the tides of time. Smooth and cleaned yet there is nothing inside, except a core of cold hard stone.

Appearances may dazzle but the Lord knows the heart. The heart that cries out in love and mercy, the heart that sings and praises the Lord brings joy to the One above.

The stone lies dead in the dry river bed, nothing touches it but the sun. Vultures fly far above and see nothing there to even pick.  The heart of stone closes out all and all who see, for to see would change the heart.

Woe to those who seek, but not the kingdom of God, for the stones shall bring them down. In ancient times stones buried the dead. He laid behind the stone. But in power and love He shed the stone and rose to be the Lord.

Bow before Him all ye sinners. Kneel before Him all you kings. The glory of the Lord shall spread throughout the land and only stones will not be moved.

Have mercy dear Savior for those who fall for they shall never rise.”

By the Holy Spirit – 10-18-06

Scripture Ref’s : Mt. 23:16-17 – Ez. 11:19, 36:26 – Amos 5:24 –

Is. 45:23 – Ro, 14:11

 

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The Little Orphan Boy

Picture it. 1937. A skinny little boy with big brown eyes lying on his bed wheezing. His father gently picks him up and rushes him to the hospital. He has pneumonia. In those days the treatment for pneumonia was to remove a rib. Yes, you heard right. The little boy undergoes surgery and is finally going to go home.

When it’s time to be discharged the doctors and nurses are puzzled. Where is the little boys father? No sign of his mother either. No-one has even visited. Having no other choice they call child services and he is placed in a Christian orphanage.

I can’t imagine how he felt. The confusion of why his parents didn’t come to see him or why they didn’t come to take him home. “Where’s my Daddy?” must have haunted his thoughts daily. The fear he must have felt in being in a strange place and only four years old must have been terrifying.

The staff at the orphanage wasn’t even sure of his real name so they gave him a name that was similar to what they thought his name might have been. His dad’s penmanship was greatly lacking. They assigned him a date of birth, too. Little “Claudie” went about trying to adjust. Christmas and birthdays were the hardest. The local community would bring gifts for the children but the gifts were for all the children to share. One boys bike, a red wagon, game boards were for everyone. There were no individual gifts. He never mentioned his birthdays or how they were. I didn’t ask.

One day “Claudie” was asked to follow the lady to her office. There was someone who wanted to see him. Claudie’s heart jumped and almost beat out of his chest.”My Daddy has come to get me,” he excitedly thought. But he hadn’t. It was a couple who had been told they couldn’t have children and wanted to adopt him. A nice couple they seemed to be. Claudie was with them for four years and adjusted well. He felt loved and cared for and finally seemed to settle in.

It was during world war two and times were tough for families. His new mother learned she was pregnant. “We can’t afford two children” his new parents explained and returned him to the orphanage. Hurt, anger, confusion, and feelings of bitterness and being abandoned again caused Claudie many problems. He lashed out in his anger, he fought with other children. He stopped trusting. His heart was broken and no one could fix it.

He remained in the orphanage until he was seventeen and with the staff’s permission he enlisted in the Air Force. It was good for him but I can’t imagine how he felt being stationed in Korea during the Korean War and everyone receiving mail but him. Not one letter. Not one card, not one “We miss you and hope you are safe” did he receive in five years. It would break anyone’s heart. Did he walk away and leave the mail call far enough away that he couldn’t hear the names being called? How hard was it to shove down the hurt as he tried to avoid not hearing his name called? He never said how he handled that. He didn’t like to talk about it.

He didn’t turn to drugs when he was discharged. He didn’t become an alcoholic or anything like that. He did get in an ocassional fight but nothing serious. He soon married a sweet young thing. Big mistake. She had a violent temper and he never knew when she would blow. They were married for five years and she said she was going to visit a relative and disappeared. He never heard from her or ever saw her again. Abandoned again with no idea why.

That didn’t stop Claudie. His favorite saying was, “I’m just a poor orphan boy who came to the big city to seek my fortune.” It wasn’t far from the truth back then. He enrolled in night school and worked his tail off and passed the law exam on the first try. He received his law degree but he didn’t become a lawyer to practice law and make the big bucks. He used it in his law enforcement carrier. He was a Deputy Marshal and worked his way up to second in command.

Twelve years after his wife disappeared he married again and this time he got a winner. Oh, she had her own issues to deal with but they were a perfect match. Like Claudie she had known betrayal. She knew what it was like to not feel loved. She, too had previously had a violent partner. She worshipped the ground Claudie walked on, so to speak. He loved her, too. They traveled, they had fun together, they laughed, loved and seldom argued.

When they got married, for his wedding gift she gave him his very own bike with a small license plate with his name on it. Oh, how he loved that bike! “It’s mine? All mine?” He grinned from ear to ear.

Al & his bike

When Christmas came around she’d buy a package of socks and wrap each pair individually so he’d have lots of presents under the Christmas tree. The same with under wear or anything that could be divided up. She made sure there were plenty of gifts with his name on the tag. Claudie loved Christmas and he’d sit ripping open several packages laughing like a young child. She loved watching him and seeing the joy and sparkle in his eyes as he’d grab another gift and rip into it. She did the same for his birthdays, with a cake and candles. It didn’t make up for years past but it filled him with a sense of joy and love like he’d never felt as a child.

Looking her husband square in the eyes while placing his wedding ring back on his finger she would say, “With this ring I thee wed – until death do us part.” She’d quote that every time after a major surgery or some procedure the doctors said he had to remove his ring for. For five years, day in and day out, she cared for him during his debilitating illness. He had taught her what true love is. She wasn’t about to abandon the man God gave her as His special gift and she made darn sure he knew it! She was by Claudie’s side as he entered heavens gates and was greeted by the Savior.

The orphanage got his first name right as it turned out, Claude, but his birthday wasn’t what they told him. For years he had lived life with the wrong name and wrong date of birth. He just figured it was all part of life and moved on. He had stopped trying to find his relatives years before after so much disappointment and hopes dashed but he did finally find his original birth certificate – Claude Albert Cass – my beloved husband of eighteen years.

I hope they celebrate Christmas in heaven.

Merry Christmas

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