On one of the final days of November, I received an e-mail from the pastor of our church telling me that he had a box of gifts that someone wanted us to have. We wrote back and forth a couple times to work out the logistics of my getting the box. Having been in the situation of “needing” extra help from others over the holidays for some time now, I expected this to be some packages to be saved for Christmas Day to be shared with my family. I picked up the mysterious box from the church office the last day of November after choir rehearsal ended. My son carried to the car and then into our house when we got home. I opened the box eagerly to see what it might be.
Inside, I found many prettily wrapped gifts with tags attached to each one along with a typewritten note from the givers of the box. Generally, the note explained that this box contained a gift for me for each day of advent. It was prepared by two people who wanted to help me remember my worth as a “daughter of the King.” The box also contained a generous gift card to use to purchase some things for my family.
Tears were my first response because I was humbled. I had spent much of October and November wondering how we might purchase gifts for our kids for Christmas without incurring more debt. November was a hard month, as we were forced to purchase new tires for our van early in the month, and then I really felt God nudging me to visit my mom with the family for Thanksgiving, a trip from which we had just returned. The expense of the trip was felt in the family budget. When Mark went back to work at his part-time job that first week after we got home, he was greeted with the news that cutbacks are coming soon, and that his job would be cut in some fashion. So I felt sure that this box was evidence of God’s notice of my concern and worry about the coming Christmas season. Then, of course, beyond Christmas gifts, I was concerned about how we would manage beyond December.
However, my second response was not as pious as the first. My second thought was, “How needy do we seem?” And, “Are we always going to be the family that needs help?” I was getting more than a little angry with God for once again putting me on the receiving end of someone’s charity.
Yet, as the month of December wore on, I woke up each morning and was delighted by each small gift from my “advent box.” I received blank books to write in, a beautiful tea cup and saucer set, lotions, cooking utensils, a book, slippers, socks, Christmas items, and a very pretty snowflake necklace, just to name a few of the things from my special box. Every gift had a different tea bag attached to it, and I was thrilled by each one.
God was working on my attitude through the generosity and kindness of these special sisters in Christ who decided to bless me this advent season. Whoever they are, their gifts showed that they had some idea of what I like and what would make me feel special. These were not just gifts for the sake of having something to give, thoughtfulness was behind each one.
In addition to these gifts from my “secret Advent Angels,” as Christmas drew closer, Mark and I received anonymous gifts from others at our church to help with Christmas expenses. I also received gifts of thanks and kindness from people where I work that added to our holiday celebration. As I entered worship on Christmas Eve, I felt very blessed by God for the way He once again showed me that He is my Father in Heaven who wants to give me good gifts. The gift of His son Jesus was revealed to me over and over again through the kindness and love of others given to me and my family this Christmas season.
As I alluded earlier, this is not the first time we have been in this situation. Truly, every year, our family receives some sort of unexpected blessings from anonymous givers, and it is not just at Christmas time.
We are NOT really poor in the truest sense of the word. We are struggling, to be sure, but some of that struggle is the result of our own actions in the past. Yet God is not stingy in His blessings to us. He does not sit back with a record book and review all the decisions we have made to determine whether we deserve to be blessed or not. He gives to us and blesses us because He is our Father who loves us. That is all. Oh how I need to learn that lesson with my own children! Perhaps that is why we are not yet in the position to be the giver. I long to be the giver. I long to be the one who is able to bless others. Yet I wonder how much of that is pride. How can I know?
Here is what I do know—God has faithfully met our family’s needs for 20 years now. He has not seen fit to take us beyond that yet, but He has never forsaken us, and, I believe, He never will. Once again, this past Christmas season and year brought many evidences to us of God’s lavish grace. So to those of you who were a part of that, who were instruments of God’s grace to us during this time, we are very grateful. We appreciate your acts of love and faithfulness. We appreciate your being Christ to us. I pray that we can be as generous to others in whatever ways we are able. I want to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive and to live accordingly.