Recently I came across an article written nearly 20 years ago by one of my students in ACTS Bible College. I want to share it with you at this Christmas time. I have called it Christmas Expectations.
‘It’s Christmas morning and a young boy about ten years old is awake early. He is so excited that he can hardly think of anything else. You see, today is a very special Christmas day. His father has promised him a very special gift. During the hour long drive to his dad’s, the anticipation grew. As he was greeted at the door by his dad and step-mom, his attention was immediately drawn to the tree. He was looking for a gift that might be the one. But there wasn’t one he could see that was the right shape and size to be that special gift. Then the boy remembered that sometimes special gifts don’t get put under the tree.
The table was set and everyone gathered for dinner. It was kind of funny. The food didn’t seem to taste all that good. All he could think about was getting to those gifts. After supper and dessert, the table was cleared and dishes were done. Finally, after what seemed to be forever, everyone gathered around the tree to exchange gifts. The first gift the boy received was a tracking book. It had pictures of all different animal tracks and descriptions of their typical movements. The second gift he received was a cleaning kit. And that meant that surely the special gift from his dad was next. But the next gift was a packet of targets and some .22 caliber ammunition. Wow! He got a tracking book, a cleaning kit, targets and ammo . . . but what about the special gift his dad had promised?
The last gifts from under the tree were exchanged. The wrapping paper was being burned in the fireplace and everyone was starting to clean up. The boy sat alone in a room full of people as the disappointment hit him. ‘But what about my special gift?’ The boy went home with his book, cleaning kit, targets and ammo but without the .22 caliber rifle his dad had promised.
That boy thought he had learned a hard lesson that day and so he did. I know because that boy was me. The problem was that I didn’t have a Savior at the time and I purposed in my heart that I would never give into expectation again. At that point, my childhood began to end. I told myself that, ‘If I didn’t expect anything, I couldn’t be disappointed.’ In a sense I was right, but to live life without expectation is to live life without faith.
Recently God has taken me back to that Christmas and shown me what it would have been like if He had been there. I could feel the hurt as I remembered. The denial stopped . . . forgiveness flowed and from the pain caused by a childhood memory faith emerged. A new chapter of growth is being written in my life.
That boy grew up and eventually became my son-in-law David Plaisted. When I read that story four things came to my mind –
1. When people let us down we easily become disappointed and even bitter. It has probably happened to all of us. Disappointments are a part of life and they hurt.
2. We need to forgive those who let us down. As David went on to write, ‘I would encourage anyone to ask God to reveal to you any holiday memories that have caused you pain and tainted the beauty of Christmas. Let God expose the scars and heal your own heart.’ There is a healing power in forgiveness.
3. Don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep especially to children.
4. Remember that although people may let you down God never will. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is ‘Immanuel’ God with us.
One last thought – Although Christmas is for most people a happy and joyous time, it can be quite the opposite for some. So let us be sensitive to those we come in contact with who may be having a hard time this Christmas. Let us be a light for them in the midst of their darkness.