During this time of year, my mind goes back to Christmas' past. Usually it goes back to December 1988. When it does so, I am reminded of God's love and provision. I also have a vivid reminder that God can take catastrophe and turn it into something wonderful.
My son was three years old that year. I had quit my job for ethical reasons in October and still was not working. Finances were extremely slim. Christmas was upon us and I did not know how I would pay the gas bill let alone buy gifts.
I received a phone from a cousin of my mom's instructing me to call ASAP. This was in the days before cell phones. I tried calling but kept getting a busy signal. Finally we connected, a fire had started at their house when no one was home and everything had been destroyed. Their daughter, son-in-law and two small grandchildren were being put up at a hotel. However, my cousin and his wife would prefer to stay with us if they could.
I swallowed hard. I couldn't feed my family after Friday let alone guests. However, I understood the trauma they had just endured and consented. They would be coming over late that night.
I headed off for mid-week service. Afterwards, I pulled up outside my house and had a nice cry. What was I going to do? I wanted to do the right thing but didn't have the means to do it. I remembered that God was my provider and I would just have to have him take care of these guests.
I opened the front door. Something was blocking the door. I started to push. I heard people running around crying, "Wait just a minute." I waited and the door opened. I couldn't believe my eyes. My living room contained boxes of food. My cousin motioned me to my refrigerator and freezer were stocked.
I sat down in disbelief. I was speechless. My cousin then handed me a rather substantial check. He told me that was for giving them a place to stay. He had explained he wasn't going to be staying with relatives instead of a motel but he was told that was okay. He would just be paying me instead of the motel.
I was stunned. We had food, I could pay all of our bills in full and there would be money left over. God knew we would need it because a number of people in need ended up passing through our doors that weekend. It was a wonderful, blessed Christmas in which we both gave and received.
By the way, things worked out well for my cousin as well. They had wanted to move to Texas to be near his mother-in-law whose health was failing. Through a series of events, this fire actually provided the means for my cousin to retire and move his family to Texas.
God truly turns our mourning in to dancing, even in this world!
This is one of my "faith stories". I think they are so important to help us get ourselves and others through the difficult times. I'm looking forward to reading the faith stories of others as well.
*8/18/11--This blog is now part of a series entitled Walking With God In The Midst of Cancer.