I used to really enjoy Christmas shopping as a kid and up into my mid-twenties. There were many things about it that I liked including the happy crowds, the anticipation of finding just the right gift for those on my list and the lighthearted enjoyment of the friends I was with. One of my earliest adventures I remember without my parents being present was the time I went shopping downtown with my Junior High friend Dan. I recall walking down the crowded sidewalks and enjoying my new found freedom!
Another memory was the time Piper and I went shopping during our first Christmas vacation together. The part of the story that stands out the most was when we were crossing the street from the Press Democrat newspaper building and were heading toward the S. H. Kress store. Half way through the crosswalk we heard a familiar voice yelling out to us. Both of us flushed a little red as we turned to see the town character “Pepper” a fiery, friendly and loud woman of Hawaiian descent standing on the sidewalk and pointing her finger at us. Once she had our attention (along with everyone else within the sound of her piercing voice) she continued by shouting: “What did you do… rob the cradle!”
Well, by that time we were totally embarrassed, so we nervously laughed, grabbed each others hand a little tighter and scurried off and into the closest store as fast as our feet could carry us! I do have to admit though… depending on what Piper was wearing and had her hair, she could easily look quite a bit younger than her seventeen years! If I remember on that particular day… she did have her hair in pigtails, which probably made her look about twelve! But we got used to the silly comments by others as we both liked her hair like that!
By the time Piper and I were married we would always pray, make a list and then try to listen to the Holy Spirit when we would go Christmas shopping. One year we drove over to the Napa Valley and found a wonderful gift and candle shop along the way where we had a great time and bought all our gifts at that one store. In fact, we now have the unique bees wax candle that we bought for my folks, having inherited it when they passed on to glory! It sits in a special place in our living room for all to enjoy.
The thought of our listening to the Holy Spirit came to mind this morning as I meditated on the part of the Christmas story that involved the shepherd’s interactions with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. The verse that really caught my attention was Luke 2:20 where it talks about the shepherds thoughts and actions following their visit to that special stable in Bethlehem. It concluded the incident by documenting how: “Everything happened the way the angel had told them.” (God’s Word ©)
I was impressed of how after the angel talked to the shepherds, they immediately responded and ran off to see that which the heavenly messenger talked about. Then afterwards how it is reported that everything happened just as it was told them! These men had faith that it was going to happen that way… and it did! They weren’t disappointed… they ended up being amazed and “glorified and praised God for everything they had heard and seen.”
Piper and I learned during those early Christmas shopping adventures that once we prayed and believed God and His Word that we would always come home with just the right gifts! And even though we had made a list, we were very much aware and excited to see what we would actually purchase. We figured that Papa God knew more about the individual needs of those on our list than we did!
Over the many years together since then, we have also come to KNOW that when God tells us to do something and are obedient to Him all the way along the path, that everything will happen the way He had told us. A good example being when we heard the voice of the Lord and KNEW that it was time for me to quit my outside job in order to care for my wife 24/7. We also KNEW that we would take some flak for this move… and we sure did! In fact, it opened up a whole can of worms that we never would have expected… but as we have been faithful and stubborn to follow His directives and not man’s suggestions, we have been blessed over the last six years since then!
So this Christmas… I encourage you to set your heart toward the true reason for the season, to listen for the Lord’s voice in all your holiday preparations and activities and then EXPECT everything to happen just as the Lord has told you that it will!
Have a great weekend, and as you find yourself out and about, remember to smile and give an encouraging word to all you come in contact with. Be someone’s blessing this season!