I was caught off guard yesterday while chatting with my 10-year-old granddaughter. They’re moving right after Christmas and she mentioned that because everything at home will be packed, they may not be able to have a Christmas tree this year. My heart sank a bit as I realized this was going to be a very different Christmas for her this year. But it was her next question that made my breath catch.
How will Santa know where to deliver my presents?
How to respond to this age-old dilemma
I had no idea what to say to her. My mind was going a few different directions all at once. First, I was shocked to learn she still believed in Santa Claus. To me, 10 seemed old to still have that belief. My son and I talked later and we chalked it up to her being an only child. With no older siblings to tell her otherwise, she’s been able to hang on to her belief a little longer than most.
Second, there was a tug at my heart to share with her the real reason for Christmas, and that didn’t include Santa Claus. My son and daughter-in-law are not believers, as far as I know. However, to my delight, my granddaughter started attending church with me a few months ago. She was intrigued when I began helping out with Sunday School and soon asked if she could come with me. We’ve been sharing Sundays together ever since.
She hadn’t attended church long enough to know the real story of Christmas.
Unsure how to respond to her query, I opted to keep my reply neutral but supportive. As I hugged her, I pointed out the stockings on my mantle, one for each of us, the same as last year. I reassured her the stockings would be filled on Christmas eve, and we will all have Christmas dinner together, just like last year. Her lips curled into a smile at the thought and memory of it all.
We enjoyed the rest of our day together and I dropped her off at home with a pledge to do the same thing next Sunday. A burden weighed heavy on my heart for the rest of the day, through the night, and has followed me into today. I know the burden well. It’s that deep yearning we all have for our loved ones, for every lost soul, to experience the real meaning of Christmas.
I want everyone to know the Jesus I know.
My yearning quickly became my challenge
I pondered how best to share with my granddaughter, the hope, peace, joy, and love I have through knowing Jesus Christ? The answer came quickly. God gave us the perfect template to follow, in Jesus. I knew right away what I had to do. I prayed.
God, use me to show her, in Jesus’ name.
God replied and brought the following to my mind.
My hope is in the Lord
And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. (Psalm 39:7, NKJV)
I first accepted Jesus at about the same age my granddaughter is now. My father and step-mother had taken me to church one time when I was visiting them. Going to church wasn’t a common occurrence for us, but God only needed that one time. I have never forgotten that night and I never will.
After being saved I walked in sin for many years before returning to the Lord at age 40. Throughout those 30 or so years of wandering, I found no-one to support me in my Christian walk. I went the way of the world for lack of guidance, but I never lost hope.
I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV)
Since returning to God, I’ve grown to trust that He has my back. He’s always had my back. I have hope today because God proved Himself faithful to me. I want my granddaughter to experience the same hope. I can ensure the opportunity is there for her to meet God in church, in my home, and any time we’re together. My ears are perked for future opportunities to share my Lord with her.
Once He has her He will never let her go!
His peace He leaves with me
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27, NKJV)
My home is my sanctuary. It’s a place where peace reigns. It’s not always been that way though. For years my life was filled with turmoil. I had a troubled heart and fear drove most of my behaviors. My circumstances and my home were far from peaceful. But God helped me regain what the enemy had stolen, and today I know a peace that is beyond all understanding.
This type of peace comes only from God.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NKJV)
I know my granddaughter will suffer in this world. Suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition. If we choose to love then we choose to suffer, and I hope she chooses to love. With the hope and peace God scatters around, she will learn to bear her sufferings and even overcome them, as I did. I pray she too will know a peace beyond all understanding.
I have the joy of the Lord
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13, NKJV)
Joy was elusive to me until I came to know Jesus. I had periods of happiness in my life but joy itself had been absent. However, once God showed me the secret of joy, it took up permanent residence in my soul. Joy comes from shifting our perspective from internal to external.
“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, NKJV)
When we focus on others and make serving them our priority, joy bubbles to the surface naturally. When we choose the posture of a servant as Jesus did, it’s like God turns on an internal fountain that supplies us with joy immeasurable.
Joy overflows from me to my granddaughter when she watches me serving at church and sees me helping others. I’m aware of and take every opportunity to model for her a servant's heart. When she sees service modeled with humility and dignity, she sees Jesus.
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, NKJV)
God’s love restored my soul
The only way to truly understand and experience love is to receive it from the source.
We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19, NKJV)
Love is impossible without God. It took me many years to open my heart to God. My past meant I kept a tight hold on things and it took God years of knocking before I opened it even a crack. However, once my heart was open to receive God’s love, He freely gave it and it restored my soul.
Through the years God has worked with me to understand the true meaning of love as He described in the 1 Corinthians.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (1 Corinthians 13:4–8, NKJV)
This is what I try to model for my granddaughter. I hope that if she hears and sees the truth, someday she will believe it. If I speak and model the hope, peace, joy, and love I have found in Jesus, my prayer is He will rub off on her. As she sees love modeled at church and in my home she too will open her heart and let God’s love in.
I’m also excited to see what she’ll teach me about Jesus in the years to come.
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 18:2–4, NKJV)