Memories are powerful. Memories connected to the Christmas season can be even more so. They can bring great joy or pain depending on the circumstances. Often what may have seemed a painful experience at first, upon reflection, is later seen as a life lesson that brings a deeper and better understanding for the blessings that we can miss.
We would like to bring a simple story to you of a Christmas memory as shared by Mandisa, a contemporary Christian Music artist and former “American Idol” finalist. This underscores how the providence of God is at work in the life of believers in ways that build patience and demonstrate God’s love. She calls this her “Unexpected Gift”.
One year not too long ago, I was completely alone on Christmas Day. I lived in Nashville, Tenn., thousands of miles from my family in California, and I didn’t have the money to go home. It was tough.
I grew up in a single-parent home, and my mother and I were close. I so admire her. She worked and raised my brother and me all on her own. Money was scarce and times were hard, but she never wavered. My mother is truly the strongest woman I’ve ever met, and the way she lived her life caused me to become a strong woman as well.
Maybe that’s why, even though I was tempted to feel sorry for myself that lonely Christmas Day, I determined instead to spend that time with Jesus.
The day changed me. I spent hours thinking about the meaning of Christmas, worshiping Jesus and reading the Gospels. People felt sorry for me, but they didn’t need to — it was one of my sweetest Christmases.
That day ended, but God had more presents in store for me. Every year since then — in a way that can only be described as God’s hand — my touring has brought me to California during the Christmas season. I spend a lot of time on the road singing and ministering to others, and I have little control over my travel schedule. So I know it was a gift from God that I’ve been able to spend Christmas with my family three years in a row.
I focused solely on delighting in God that one Christmas, and He brought the desires of my heart to pass. Just like He promises.
It is important that we not forget where true joy comes from. In the busy-ness and noise of the season, we can become very distracted and miss this. Jesus left a perfect world to enter this broken one to bring us joy, to fulfil His promise, and to give us providential memories. Make the effort to get alone, read the Christmas story in the book of Luke, then imagine yourself as one of the shepherds who heard the announcement and saw the new born Savior. This will bring the perspective that we all need as we close our eyes on year 2021 and prepare for the year to come.
NOTE: Mandisa’s story is taken from the Focus on the Family website, https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/meaningful-christmas-memories/