God sometimes shows up in strange ways. One Christmas week, He did just that.
For a number of years, Dad struggled with God’s call to be an evangelist. After resigning from his church, he decided the time had arrived. Leaving a church when you live in a church-provided home and have nowhere to go is a scary experience—especially when you have a family. Fortunately, the church organist had a little getaway mobile home on the shores of the Santee River, which he offered to my family.
Mom, Dad, and my two brothers loaded up their clothes, stored the remainder of their belongings at my grandparents’ home, and headed for what they had never experienced before: living in a trailer, using someone else’s belongings, and living near the water. Their new home was small and showed evidence of a bachelor’s presence, but Mom made it as much of a temporary home as she could—even after finding snake skins in one of the closets.
Mom worked thirty miles away. Her income wasn’t sufficient to pay the bills. Debt mounted. Calls for Dad to preach seldomly arrived. When they came, Mom struggled to muster the gas money for Dad to get there. And the compensation never covered his expenses.
When the weather turned cold, keeping the oil tank filled further drained their bank account. To top it off, my middle brother struggled with asthma attacks, which often meant trips to a nearby hospital in the middle of the night.
All the while, the season of joy quickly approached—but little joy existed in my family’s household that Christmas. How could they be joyful when there was no money to buy a tree or presents? Even if they had the tree, the ornaments were packed up. Mom loved to cook large Christmas meals, but this year the cabinets cried empty, as did the freezer.
A dose of ingenious planning by Mom and a surprise visit from a friend turned the tide. Pines decorated the forests around their new home. Why not use one as a Christmas tree, Mom thought? So they did. Dad and my two brothers trekked through the woods until they found the perfect one. They cut it and dragged it back to the spot Mom had carefully chosen. She even came up with a solution for the ornaments. Finding craft ornaments that required baking and painting, she bought them and delivered them to Dad. He needed something to occupy his mind anyway.
Christmas looked as if it would be meatless. But Christmas week witnessed a visit from their good friend and owner of the trailer. He worked at a local car dealership, and his employer had given him a ham and a turkey as Christmas gifts. Since he was a single man, he had no use for both, so he offered the ham to Mom. God sent meat for Christmas.
That Christmas on the river proved to be the leanest my family had ever experienced, but it stands out as their most memorable. They spent time together and felt closer than they ever had. The aroma of the ham cooking snaked through every inch of the trailer, reminding them of God’s goodness. They didn’t have much, but God gave exactly what they needed.
The excitement and anxiety were almost more than she could bear. But she willingly accepted God’s plan to provide a Savior for the world. “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her” (Luke 1:38 NLT).
My family needed meat for Christmas, and God provided. Soon after, He provided another church for Dad. Once again, they had a place to stay and food on the table. God provided sustenance for my family just as He did a Savior for the world. And that’s how God is. Whatever the need, He’ll always supply.
What is one way you can learn to trust God more to supply your needs?
Father God, I trust in You to supply every need my family has and to direct our lives.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright 2020: Christmas on the River: Martin Wiles: All Rights Reserved