The next day, after my talk with Grandma, was Christmas Eve. Surprisingly, all throughout the day, I had kept thinking of more and more things to add to my list of “how God has been working in my life.” Even when the twins, Grandma, Grandpa, and I made gingerbread houses, I thought about how at home, I still had a wonderful home and family to return to, even if my parents were to spilt up. My family still loved me and wanted to do what was best for me, and that was enough to be grateful for.
That afternoon, Grandpa had had the idea to invite the Eaton’s over to our home the next day for Christmas dinner. Immediately, I knew I needed to apologize to Mrs. Eaton for not thinking very nice things about her and her family.
That evening, snow began to fall outside, as we filed into the church building for the Christmas Eve service. The scene before me could have been out of a Christmas movie. The worship center was lit with candles and now, in the middle of the stage, sat a nativity with Jesus at the center and Mary and Joseph on the sides.
When I looked at baby Jesus from my seat, it was like a bolt of electricity went off inside me. Immediately I felt God tell me to give my life to Him. Immediately I pulled back from the notion. I was fine with letting God be with me and be my Immanuel, but me deciding to be with God forever and Him being my Lord and Master? That was a different story.
The service began, and conveniently all the songs were about how Jesus came to earth to save and set us all free. Then the sermon began and the first words out of the preacher’s mouth were, “One name we hear for Jesus a lot at Christmas time is Immanuel.”
I couldn’t believe it! The preacher was preaching on how Jesus is our Immanuel and how Jesus doesn’t just want to be our Immanuel only at Christmas time, but Jesus wants to be our Immanuel every day of the week!
During the whole service, I kept trying to ignore the voice in my head telling me I should give my life to Jesus, but soon I couldn’t ignore or pretend it was all a coincidence anymore. I had to give my life to Jesus.
So, when we got home that evening, it took every ounce of bravery I had to ask Grandma what I should do to be saved. When I had asked, Grandma eyes seemed to have leapt with joy, but then try to calm herself and answer in the most appropriate of ways.
“To become a Christian, all you need to is repent and tell God you are sorry for what you have done. Ask for His forgiveness and admit you need Jesus alone to save you. Once you have done that, as soon as you can, be baptized into His Name. That is when you go “from death to life,” and are made in new.
Once you are forgiven, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God — the third person of God, who comes to live inside of you so that you may know how to best live for Him.
Does that make sense? Do you believe you are a sinner and are in need of a Savior to save you?”
I thought for a moment and then I couldn’t have been more sure of my answer. “Yes, I am a sinner. I truly do need Jesus to save me, Grandma. Without Him, I am going to be forever lost and have no good thing.”
Grandma smiled, “Then I think it’s time we prayed and schedule you a baptism!”
“Ok,” I said with a smile back.
“I will sit next to you,” Grandma said, “but you have to pray. This is between you and God.”
I nodded and then closed my eyes. “Dear Jesus,” I began, “I have been awful lately, well, actually for my whole life. I wanted you, but I didn’t want you, but now I want you more than anything! I need you to save me and set me free from my sin. Will you please forgive me?” At that moment, for the first time in my life, I felt free. I felt like I no longer had to worry about so many things! I felt…new. “Thank you, Jesus and in Your Name I pray, Amen.”
Suddenly Oliver and Benny bounded into the room, where Grandma and I sat crying and hugging each other.
“Come on,” Oliver cried, “We are going to watch a Christmas movie!”
“Yeah,” continued Benny, “We are…” then he paused just now recognizing Grandma and I had been crying, “What’s wrong?” Benny asked.
Grandma and I both laughed and then told them the news. Benny began to jump up and down with excitement and then they both gave me a hug. Grandpa finally entered the room when he heard all the commotion. Immediately both Oliver and Benny told him, and he began to celebrate as well.
“Well, isn’t this a happy Christmas?” Grandpa said happily.
And indeed it was! The next morning, we got up, read the Christmas story, and opened presents. After presents, Grandpa lit the fire and Grandma left to start Christmas dinner. Suddenly, the doorbell rang and the Eaton’s all came in. I had forgotten Grandpa had invited them over!
Again, I was reminded of how I needed to apologize, so I did. It was awkward, but it was a good awkward. She forgave me and again hugged, kissed, and blessed me.
Now, as I sit here on the couch, in the evening of Christmas day, I couldn’t have been more grateful for the way this Christmas turned out. Soon, my family and I would be returning home and all the normalcy of life would return. But, one thing that would be different, was me. After all these years of Christmases, I finally got it. I finally understood what Christmas was all about.
Christmas is not just about a baby named Jesus who was born in a stable, had angels sing at His birth, and had shepherds come and worship Him. Yes, all of these things happened, but it was more than that.
Christmas is about a huge, majestic God becoming like one of His finite creatures in order to save them from eternal destruction, punishment, despair, and death. Jesus came to give life.
Jesus came to give true hope, joy, and salvation to a lost and broken world; to show us there is a better way to live and that there is more to life than what we think there is. We no longer have to live in darkness and be subject to our sinful ways anymore! We can be made new in Christ; we can receive salvation and forgiveness for our sins if we only trust in Jesus alone to save us.
This really had turned out to be a wonderful Christmas. Even though life was not perfect, nor would it ever be perfect, life was still good. I was warm and cozy in front of my grandma’s fireplace with my brothers happily asleep in their beds for the night. Grandma was coloring on the other couch across from me and Grandpa was reading the newspaper in his Lazy Boy.
Yep, for the moment, life was very good. I couldn’t have been more thankful for the breath in my lungs, and for that little baby that was born so long ago, but was very much alive today – roaring like a lion and standing between God and I daily, pleading the cause that I am clean and made new because of Him. I am a child of God and that would never change.
Another happy ending! 🙂