I just finished decorating my Christmas tree. The lights are shining, carols are playing softly, the poinsettias pillows are on the sofa, and the wreath is on the door.
Ornaments, scratched and marred, from my childhood, hang proudly with the hodgepodge of other things I have collected over the years. I have never cottoned to theme trees with burlap bows and big red balls, and such. I just like my stuff.
There’s the little gold angel, with my name on it, given to me my first year as a missionary in Belgium, and the Teddy Bear, dressed as Santa, made by my niece ages ago. The last ornament my mother bought for her last Christmas on this earth is displayed prominently on the front of the tree. So many memories!
Decorating is more difficult than it used to be. I’m no longer allowed to climb ladders, but it is Christmas, so you do what you have to do.
This will be my eighty-first Christmas. Can I remember the best one? Oh, Yes!
Christmas, 1945, I was almost ten, and WW II, the “War to end all Wars” was finally over. My heart still swells at the memory of the joy and relief that filled our home.
My three big brothers served in the Navy. Jack was on a tanker, the USS Kankakee, in the Pacific. Henry was on a battleship, also in the Pacific, and Lincoln the youngest was a Yeoman stationed at the Naval Base in San Pedro, California.
We were proud of my brothers, but we were also concerned listening to every newscast, waiting anxiously for their little V-Mail letters. The letters were always censored leaving only bits and pieces of the original text.
The war was especially hard on Mothers. Mama had sent her first three babies off to fight the enemy, and she was determined that they would come back safely. So—she prayed. She hoped, and she prayed without ceasing. She prayed that her boys would return whole and healthy as she had sent them away.
Thank God! They did return. Jack came back to the States on a naval hospital ship, in a full body cast, but he would recover. Henry was back on American soil, and Lincoln was just a hop, skip, and a jump away. We were grateful!
Then it was Christmas. My Mom had cleaned the house from stem to stern and cooked everything her boys could possibly want hoping that they would all be home.
She bustled around putting last-minute touches to the Christmas meal trying her best to be cheerful, but I could see the sorrow in her eyes and feel the sadness in her heart, for there would still be an empty place at our table. Henry was Stateside, but he had not yet been mustered out of the navy.
The eight of us sat around the big table, and just as my Daddy bowed his head to ask the blessing, I heard the screen door open.
There he was! My big brother Henry was home for Christmas. I can never forget my Mother’s joy as she laughed and cried, and danced and shouted, and nearly squeezed the life out of her firstborn.
Hope fulfilled! What a joyous thing!
Mama clung tenaciously to her hope throughout the war. When I think about it, I realize that her hope was not in the well-built craft, in which my brothers plied the Pacific. Nor was her hope in the capable commanding officer or the impeccable training the boys received. She did not hope that the enemy would perform poorly, and she did not trust the United States Government to keep her boys safe.
She had but one source of hope.
With King David, Psalm 71:5, Mama said, “You are my hope, O Lord God…” and again in Psalm 5:3, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord…and I shall look up.”
Mama looked up into the face of her HOPE morning, noon and night her trust never failing.
We make the mistake of placing our hope in people and things. Invariably, people disappoint, and things lack the ability to fulfill our dreams.
In Proverbs 13:12, King Solomon said, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
I don’t know what you are hoping for this Christmas, but I must remind you—He is our hope.
That little baby, who rested in the feeding trough, and grew up to be our risen Savior, Jesus, He is our HOPE.
Psalm 146:5, “Happy is he…whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
My prayer for you is that you will enjoy a wonderfully blessed Christmas with Jesus at the center of your celebration.
Thank you all for reading my blog this year. The gift of your time has blessed and encouraged me.
MERRY CHRISTMAS and GOD BLESS! Remember—
The sun will come out tomorrow