Have you ever noticed how those things often go together? I think so much of it has to do with the way God teaches us and strengthens us in our love for Him.
Last week, as we were preparing to decorate our Christmas tree, we pulled up our box of ornaments from the basement only to find them all ruined by mold. Some of the ornaments just disintegrated! I am not a sentimental person, nor am I a crier, but all of our ornaments were either gifts from loved ones or handmade by the children and I – some even by students from when I taught school more than 30 years ago. And I sobbed! My heart was broken over the loss, yet I was feeling foolish about crying over “things”, things that would not last into eternity, things insignificant in the light of major trials others were going through. But, my heart was heavy nonetheless.
I just needed to cry out to others who would understand so I posted to my dear sweet sisters on CHFWeb and their love and compassion quickly helped to ease my heart. I spent time with the Lord in prayer and read some scriptures and went (by God’s design, not mine) to John 11 – the story of Lazarus dying and Jesus raising him from the dead.
Now, I realize that the loss of ornaments is NOTHING compared to the loss of a beloved brother, but the Lord pointed out that Jesus wept with Mary and Martha over their brother’s death. God spoke to me that the things that are precious to us, those who love and trust Him, are not insignificant to Him. He wept with Mary and Martha and his spirit was deeply troubled. He knew full well that His plan was to raise Lazarus from the dead, but these sisters – who were so very dear to Him – were grieving, and He shared that grief with them. And Jesus wept.
He reminded me that the preciousness of my ornaments (or anything of this temporal life that we lose) is not about their material worth. It is about what they represented to me in relation to those I love(d). It was a sweet word He spoke to my heart and was a great encouragement to me.
But, leave it to His wonderful and abundant grace and love…He didn’t stop there. My “special ladies” (as my son calls them) at CHFWeb pulled together and decided to send me special ornaments FROM THEIR OWN TREES to replace the ones we lost! I have had almost 60 women wanting to send ornaments to us! We have received some every day this week with beautiful letters of love and sweet stories of these ornaments. Some are new but with ideas special to the sender, some are old with memories of their own. Some are from the children of my “special ladies” who wanted to share with my children. All of them have blessed every one of us, have sent me to tears (usually where I cannot even read the cards) and have brought NEW memories and stories to our family tradition.
This Christmas season didn’t quite turn out like I planned — but it ended up being much MORE than I could ever hope or think. I am so humbled and awestruck by the love of these precious sisters in Christ and their generosity to me. I love that none of them said, “You spiritual dweeb! These are only THINGS!” No sir – they exemplified Jesus to me – they wept with me and then, their love and giving spirits gave new life and vigor to my hurting heart.
I am a woman blessed.