This time of year brings back all kinds of memories. I volunteered to take a Bible verse and write a devotion to go in my church Advent devotional. The memories were easy; the challenge was training my thoughts around a scripture as well. Here’s the result.
Scripture- Psalm 16:11 “You show me the past of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Advent season is a time for many memories. Opening the door to the past, I think of my first Christmas memory. Mom gave me a new red, velvety dress and pressed my hair in curls. I was seven and we lived in Virginia. Well, she dressed me up all pretty but it seems I caused her some embarrassment, plugging my ears and yawning a lot during the musical service. Maybe I just wanted to be in the nursery with my little brother. Despite my lack of decorum, we went home and Mom, Dad, and my little brother spent time listening to the record player together as I fell asleep watching the candles flicker, waiting for morning. As close as I am to Mom, it’s odd that this is my first Christmas memory! Yet what matters is that we enjoyed our time together as a family, my immature behavior was forgiven, and the occasion was still joyful.
Then there is the memory of two years later being allowed to go into the ICU on Christmas Eve to see my dad through the glass. *He’d had surgery on his esophagus and was in critical condition, but ultimately, lived. It was a rough Christmas, but friends and neighbors all over shared their Christmas joy and cheer with us for the weeks he was hospitalized. I was overwhelmed; we’d only known many of them for just one year. Years later, as an adult, Dad said he saw me look through that window, and it felt as if he was visited by an angel giving him assurance. Being told this made me feel really special. I didn’t realize I could be so important to him.
While I recall many who have given over the years to share their joy and Christmas spirit with my family and with me, it is as deeply rewarding to do this for others. I had a few opportunities to do so when I worked in retail. I missed church service working late one Christmas Eve, and was anxious to get home to give three-year-old Austen his new tricycle. Yet, I found joy in making one customer so happy when I found her a sought after TV in the stockroom, that she hugged me, saying, “God bless you.” This was two minutes before closing time. I talk about how retail zapped my Christmas spirit year after year, but this woman’s happiness and relief truly warmed me spiritually, and my son was still happy when I got home!
Prayer: Lord, when I look back, please help me to see the good in all that I have endured, the lessons learned, the moments when I was someone else’s light in the dark whether I knew it or not, the many times that I was shown how much I was loved. Help me to share that love and joy with others, for there is no greater pleasure. Please help me to see that the goodness you have bestowed on me all my life will continue, for with faith in you, dear Lord, comes the knowledge and assurance that I will always be loved.
*Addendum: If you were wondering, my father’s esophageal issue was due to a history of binge drinking and alcoholism. He sought sobriety and finally, it stuck, after he stayed in a 30-day rehab when I was 20. Almost thirty years later, he is still firm in his recovery.
Light at the end of the tunnel. Photos courtesy of Pixabay.