My husband and I maneuvered across the ice covered sidewalk. The large cardboard boxes in tow made it difficult to keep our balance. Our destination was a small white house filled with children longing for Christmas gifts. It was early Saturday morning, the air was cold and icicles hung from every possible point. I looked up the steps and noticed one thing ... no festive lights were shining from the windows.
We reached the door and knocked ... once, twice and a third time. The door opened to a smiling woman still wearing pajamas. She looked from me to the boxes. I recited the speech given at each house before ...
"Merry Christmas, we're here from Operation Elf."
Again, the woman smiled and then whispered "Thank you." She reached for the boxes.
From behind her, a small boy of maybe 7 stepped out of the half darkness and pulled the door further open. His smile was huge and his eyes were bright. What caught me the most was his hair, a mohawk style haircut ... Having three boys, I know this haircut is huge with the little guys.
"I love your hair, that is so cool!" I leaned down and met his gaze as his mother took the boxes from us and placed them inside.
I glanced over his shoulder, my eyes adjusted to the half darkness and I saw bed sheets hanging
over the windows and very little furniture. Something caught my eye, in the middle of the room was a mattress. I could see tussled hair from three or four sleeping individuals sticking out from thin blankets. At the bottom of the blankets ... two small bare feet poked out.
I swallowed hard at the lump growing in my throat. We finished our delivery amidst the little boy's reciting of his Christmas wish list. I swallowed again, his wishes were not in those boxes. My oldest son and I had helped wrap those gifts. So, I knew there wasn't a Nintendo DS in any of the brightly wrapped boxes. We made our way back across the ice and into our warm car.
There were no words at first, just the quiet and exchanged looks between my husband and me. Our three boys sat in the back seat, bundled in their winter garb. I felt the tears form at the corners of my eyes ...
"Jerry that house felt really cold." On a day like that, heat would normally welcome you from the doorway. I had felt no heat from this house.
"Yeah, it did ..." Jerry's voice trailed off and he looked back at our blessings.
"Did you see those little feet poking out from the blankets?"
"No, I couldn't see past the door."
I went into an explanation of what my eyes had seen and my heart had felt. We fell silent and drove to the next delivery point. In my mind, I started a wish list of my own. I wished I had enough money to go and buy that little boy everything on his list. I wished their house was warm. I wished the provider in their family could find work and provide things for his children.
I didn't wish that because I felt those parents were failing their children. I wished them because I think those parents were wishing the same things.
That was mid December last year. Our family signed up to be part of a community project to provide presents for struggling families. We're planning to take part in the community service again. But, just taking part doesn't seem like it's enough. I am still adding things to my wish list. I wish I could do more. I wish there something I could do for those families. I wish I could provide jobs for each family.
Why is it some people pray and get a miracle and others pray and get the answer no? Have you ever felt this way or questioned this same thing?
For me, this is the most difficult aspect of my faith. With every other question, every other hurt ... I can find peace in my faith.
Why is it that one person wins a battle against cancer and another person looses? Why does one child have friends and another not? Why are some wealthy and some poor? Why do some children live carefree lives and other children endure pain? Why do some men find jobs and others don't?
These are just a small portion of the questions fighting for first place in my mind?
It's easy to say ... In God's time ... when you aren't the one facing a difficult situation. Don't misunderstand me, I am a firm believer in God's timing. He sees a bigger picture, the future and all the possibilities and outcomes for each situation. I trust His perfect timing, but that trust doesn't always mean the journey is easy. And, it doesn't make each step certain.
As a believer, sometimes I think I am not allowed weakness or difficulty in understanding God's ways. Sometimes, I feel like any sign of weakness will cause others to doubt the One I put my trust in. I realized something ... in all those things ... I'm the one not trusting. I have to trust in each situation, each answer "no" ... God is in control. My weakness lets Him shine. My fears, let Him prove His love.
In all my wishing ... in that long list of wishes ... I forgot to give it to God.
Have you ever felt that way?
Revelation 7:17 "For the lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes."
Luke 9:23 - 24 "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."