The Gift of Hope
This is an updated blog that I posted in 2017. Be sure to read the new ending. God surely is our HOPE!
The decorating of the Christmas tree up on Rocky Top has always been a
festive time….Christmas carols playing in the background, the smell of a
freshly cut tree in the air, a crackling fire glowing in the fire place,
crab bites (a family favorite) and sparkling Welch’s.
Not so much this year. As I sat on the floor going through
ornaments, I begin to quietly cry. Over half of our ornaments were given
to us by people we had pastored in the past. Satan whispered in my ear,
“No more ornaments for you. That part of your life is done. You
don’t even have one from your own mother. And she’s dead now. ”
Preacher didn’t know what was going on in my heart as we began to decorate
the tree. I had chosen not to make any crab bites and the Christmas music
playing in the background almost seemed annoying.
After it was decorated, we stood back to admire the work and I think I just
let out a sigh. Normally we sing a Christmas carol together as Preacher
turns on the lights. Not this year.
A few days later as we were traveling for our new ministry, I received a
text from a friend who had agreed to come take care of our home and water our
Christmas tree while we were traveling. The text read, “Here is how
I found your tree.” It was followed by a picture of the tree turned over,
stand and all, water everywhere with pieces of broken ornaments scattered
throughout the room.
My heart sunk. I did not cry. Sadness just enveloped me.
Two dear friends cleaned it all up and even tied the tree to the back door to
keep it standing up.
Upon returning home, Preacher and I once again decorated the tree.
Determining to change my perspective and heart, crab bites were made along with
cookies. Maybe food would soothe my wounded, grieving heart.
The tree stood proud for one week.
After a long day of ministry and Christmas shopping, I walked into the house
to once again find the eight foot Christmas tree lying on the floor with more
broken ornaments and a water soaked tree skirt.
This Rocky Top girl would like to tell you she worshipped, kept perspective
by remembering so many people who are going through much worse things than a
fallen tree but I did not.
I sat in the middle of the mess and began to just sob and yell at God.
When Preacher got home, he helped me clean it up. He offered to
attempt to stand it up again.
“No! Get it out of my home. Tomorrow I will buy a fake tree.” I
Preacher carried it out and threw it over the cliff on the back of Rocky
The next morning when I sat with Jesus so many emotions swirled in my heart
and head…..from anger to shame to failure.
As I opened His word He spoke with gentleness:
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul
is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him and he will proclaim
justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will
anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a
smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in
his name the Gentiles will hope.” Matthew
Through His word, Jesus reminded me of why He came. He came to sit with me in all my mess.
Christmas is grace in our failure.
Christmas is forgiveness to those who wound and betray us.
Christmas is strength when we are weak.
Christmas is justice and not judgement.
Christmas is peace in chaos.
Christmas is joy in our deepest sadness.
Christmas is comfort in our grief.
Christmas is knowing He will lead when we are wandering.
Christmas is your mentor, your Timothy, and your children
giving you ornaments of truth to hang around your neck instead of glass ones
that will eventually break. (Proverbs 1:9)
Christmas is HOPE in what we believe to be
We want Christmas to be filled with laughter, fun, gifts and happiness.
Sometimes Christmas is just remembering that in all the hurt, in all the
pain, in all the change, in all the disappointments in life, whether they are
big or small, Jesus came to give us Himself: HOPE!
About one week after I posted this blog in 2017, I received a box in the mail from one of our Life Action missionaries. It was filled with handmade ornaments. Each one had a gift that Jesus brought us when He gave us Himself written on it: Grace, Forgiveness, Strength, Love, Justice, Peace, Joy, Comfort, Knowing, and HOPE.
The day I received that box of ornaments, Hope was delivered. This dear friend reminded me that we are to be the Hope-givers to those around us.
My prayer this Christmas is that I will bring HOPE to someone else. Is there anyone you need to bring Hope to this Christmas?