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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE

Matthew 7:7-11  "Don't bargain with God.  Be direct.  Ask for what you need.  This isn't a cat-and-mouse game we're in.  If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust?  If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate?  As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing.  You're at least decent to your own children.  So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?" (MSG)

(Note: This is a true Christmas story that happened to my family. -Christie)

THE TRUCK

"Mommy?'

"What is it Jonathan?"

"Mommy, it's going to be Christmas soon and I want to have a truck to play with."

"Sweetie, I don't think I'm going to be able to shop for toys this year.  Things are going well, we have plenty to eat, I just don't think there will be any left for extras.  I have an idea, though,  you can go into the living room and pray about this.  Tell God that you want a truck this year and see what he tells you."

"But Mom, how will I get a truck that way?"

"God is my provider.  I am just the one who takes care of what he sends us.  If some extra money comes my way, then I will know that it is for your Christmas gifts.  That's how you will get your truck."

Those were strictly words of faith because that was all that I had to offer on that warm November day in Rio Hondo, Texas.  The toll of household bills, my college tuition with expenses of daycare for my youngest and gas for my two hour commute kept things pretty close in my budget.

Recently, I switched to a new daycare after the one near the university neglected to take my toddler to the restroom or even clean him up after an accident.  So, I dropped substitute teaching, so I could stay home and spend more time with him.  You can see why this year left me without resources for extras like gifts for underneath our Christmas tree.

My three year old disappeared into the next room.  I tiptoed nearer to peek at him.  He was standing with his hands together and his eyes squinted shut.  Inspired, I joined him, adding my own plea for enough money to buy just a few gifts this year for my children.  One of them had to be a truck.

My little blondie tore a path back into the kitchen.  With a glowing face he climbed up into my lap.  His hands cupped around my face and he looked me squarely in the eyes.  "Mommy, God said, 'Yes'."

"Really?  You are sure that you heard him say that?"

"Yes ma'am.  He said, "Yes." 

"Alright then, if any unexpected money comes my way, I know it is for your truck.  I prayed for your sisters and brother as well."  Lifting him up in a hug, I continued, "I am so proud of you for going right to God and asking him.  He is a loving heavenly father and it pleases him when we come expecting good gifts from him.  He is not a liar.  When he told you you would have a truck, then he will keep his word to you."

Now, I believed God could do this, but I also had some misgivings.  As a parent, I didn't want to see my young son disappointed after praying for something that he truly longed for.  I wanted to see how God would fulfill this wish of his and so I vowed I would not say a word to anyone outside of the children about this.  I would wait and see.

I kissed his chubby little cheek and put Jonathan down, then stepped over to the counter to finish slicing a tomato for the lettuce salad.  At least I didn't have to wonder if there would be food on the table.  My small town grocer, Mr. Hartzog, asked me to always come in and use credit for milk, juice, cereal etc. if I ever needed to.  He did not want the kids or myself to go without while I concentrated on the last two years of my teaching degree.

Footsteps of my three older children could be heard as they pounded down the wooden stairway.  FIrst came Jennie, my oldest at eleven.  She set the plates around the table and then directed Audrey, her seven year old sister, to get the silverware out of the drawer.  Nathan, my nine year old, looked up at me with a shy grin as he fished a piece of carrot out of the salad before pouring the water.  Now, Jonathan's job was to sit still until we all were seated, then we held hands, and said the blessing.

Traditionally, my youngest would get to say their own blessing and we never knew what would come up in this prayer.  Tonight, "Dear Jesus, thank you for the truck you said I could have this Christmas,"

Of course this brought questions fromt he other three and Jonathan quickly told them that when he prayed and asked God for a truck to play with that God responded with a "yes".

Nathan quickly exclaimed, "I sure would like to see if God answers that little kid's prayer."

I sensed that this was a teachable moment, so I encouraged them all to ask God to provide for their gifts as well.

After lying beside Jonathan in his lower bunk and answering a multitude of questions about how God would go about sending me money all the way from Heaven, I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m. and slipped into bed.  Final exams were on my mind.  The early hours before daybreak were my only chance to study alone in quiet.

Yet, I struggled with a few doubts about how that paper money would "float down from Heaven" just as Jonathan had wondered out loud.  I sure did not have the answer, but I breathed a prayer and thanked God that he knew how this all would work out.  Then, exhausted from the day, I fell asleep.

The next week I crammed for final exams coming up soon.  My days were spent focused on reviewing for all of my classes.  That is, until I picked up Jonathan at the daycare.  Soon after the hugs, he would always come up with the same question, "Did you get it yet?"

The first time he asked, I was preoccupied and couldn't think of what "it" was.  Then he clarified, "Mom, did God give you the money yet?"

This continued on every day throughout the week.  His eager questions kept me praying that God would be faithful, so that these sweet children would know that God would provide and answer our prayers.

I was in the mood to to drive to my sister's church to hear her as she led the loud worship music that I loved so much.  I called her to let her know that we were coming her way.  I always melted into tears and felt washed clean and full of joy after singing there.  My faith needed bolstering this Sunday night.

It was getting late with an hour drive ahead of me I waved to Diana and gave her a thumbs up for the worship band.  Diana was still playing her guitar while people prayed at the altar.  I went to gather Jonathan from the nursery and when I turned around, there was my sister in front of me flashing a silly smile.  "Oh no you don't.  You're not getting out of here without a hug from me."

Happily I returned the squeeze.

"One more thing," she added, "Don and I want you to have these two checks.  One is for food so you can get your baking ingredients for Christmas candy, cookies, and your meal.  The other check is for you to use buying presents for the kids."

I just stared in disbelief and then a huge grin broke out on my face.  "Thank you!  I'll call and talk to you after I get back and tuck the kids in bed.  You just can't begin to understand what this means to us!"

I practically floated out to the car.  The kids soon quieted down for the hour long drive home, but I couldn't wait to tell them the news.

"Jo-o-n-nathan."

"Yes Mommy?"

"Jonathan, aren't you going to ask me something?"

"What?"

"What do you usually ask me every day?  Well, God sent two checks to Mommy tonight."

After I told them all of the details, Nathan let out a loud squeal.  "I can't believe that little kid prayed for a truck and got us $200!"

That's not the end of the story.  I called Diana and thanked her for the money and told her about how excited the kids and I were now about the holidays.  I explained to her about Jonathan's request and how we had been waiting to see just how this all would work out.

This year my parents, missionaries in South Africa, decided to fly home and spend time with us for Christmas.  My Uncle Bob and Aunt Esther flew in from Arizona to see us all during my parent's short time home in the USA.

Needless to say, the kids ended up with a bounty of wonderful gifts, but the zaniest part was that every single package for Jonathan contained some kind of truck.  No one had been told either!  We didn't even need a check for that part of the prayer to be answered.

When my uncle and aunt arrived a few days after Christmas, Uncle Bob proudly carried in a large handmade wooden truck for the boys.  We all laughed out loud and they looked at us quizzically until we explained about my toddler's prayer over a month ago.

My heart soared in praise to my faithful heavenly father who didn't disappoint an eager little prayer warrior.  This lesson would never be lost on the kids or myself.

Just let the little ones come unto Him.  He knows how to take care of them all.