I'm wrapping a birthday gift.
And I'm lost in thought.
It's Samuel's birthday. It's a tender time each year.
Twelve years ago, Lonny and I were in the sanctuary of our church home. It was the evening of the Christmas program. Lonny's arm, like always, was looped over my shoulders. There were candles and music and greens.
And a friend came down the aisle as Mary, holding her newborn babe.
And my heart broke.
I'd had a miscarriage two months before. The pregnancy had come after stacked-up years of want. Lonny and I had prayed. Our two young sons had prayed on small, bent knees, too.
And those pleas had been answered. Then my body pushed away what my heart held dear.
Lonny squeezed my shoulder. He pulled me close, like he could keep out the pain. My friend coddled her baby in the soft light of the stage. I wrapped my own arms around my hollow middle while anger and hurt caged my heart.
I didn't know that a few months later I'd be pregnant again.
I didn't know that right before the next Christmas, I'd hold my own sweet Sam.
I snip a length of ribbon and tie it around the box. Samuel will like his gift. He's grateful and easy to please. And when he shakes the present and rips the paper, I'll see what I always see.
I'll see God's gift of grace.
Because with Samuel, God reached straight into my hurt. He reached into my anger. He reached into all that was jealous and raw and hard inside.
He reached into far away, dark places.
And He pulled me close and made them light with grace.
It was nothing that I deserved.
It was only by His love.
I finish the gift and set it on the table. Shiny ribbon curls catch afternoon light. It will soon be time for cake and candles, family and song. And my heart overflows from the goodness of it all... not even because the Lord gave me the desire of my heart (oh, I'm forever grateful for that) but because in compassion and love He reached low to touch an empty place with the beat and promise of life.
Isn't that just like Christmas?
Isn't that just like His grace?
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
Merry Christmas, friends, from our home to yours. May your days be filled with tender whispers of His grace.
("The Greater Miracle", the full story of the year God gave us Samuel, is in Cecil Murphey's book titled Christmas Miracles.)