Christmas. Only days away and the busiest time of the year. A time when sometimes we get lost in the commercialism and miss out on the true meaning of the season.
I wasn’t sure I would be here this Christmas. I have been critically ill and at death’s door since May—a story for another time. As we decorated Penney this year, memories flooded my mind, and I am grateful for the opportunity to hang each ornament. What used to be a chore is now a reminder that God has given me a second chance.
Oh, wait. Maybe you’ve never met Penney. Penney is our family tree and this year she is 49 years old. The first year Hub and I were married we needed to buy a tree. We were teenagers, young and in love and hardly had two nickels to rub together. With no idea what to do, we went to JC Penney’s and opened a revolve-a-charge to purchase Penney. She cost $30.00, and as I look back I have to smile. More than likely, we paid a fortune for her by the time that credit card revolved again and again to get her paid off, but it’s the best $30.00 we ever spent.
This year Penney has a theme-“GO BIG OR GO HOME”. Her ornaments are gigantic and un-proportionate to her size. So, why this theme? Because sometimes life comes at you hard. Sometimes circumstances can cloud our view. And sometimes we feel small and helpless in comparison to what we’re facing. Some of you, like I, may have faced death or lost a loved one. It’s been a rough year. And because of that, we need to inwardly purpose to stay focused and find a deeper, new resolve- “go big or go home”.
As I look back over the past seven months of being so sick, the doctors didn’t anticipate my survival, along with losing a brother unexpectedly, and all of the continued on-going recovery, I can’t help but wonder why God chose me to stay behind– to remain here on earth.
Undoubtedly, He has a purpose and a plan.
I don’t want to fail Him.
He’s done so much for me.
As I placed my presents under Penney, it came to mind What Would I give Jesus this year? It’s His birthday, and I have gifts for everyone else but Him. What could His gift be? He has it all. And then, as if He actually called out my name, I heard His voice quietly speak to my heart. I knew the answer.
My gift is me.
I’m physically broken, emotionally drained, still struggling, yet left here for a purpose. His purpose… His plan… I realize more each day that God was my sustaining Strength during the past seven months. I emerged stronger, more determined, and somewhat changed; but hopefully changed for the better. I’ve gained a renewed purpose to acknowledge Jesus and be a beacon of Light to those who have no hope.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12: 1-2 (ESV)
As I reflect on this year, I’m choosing to move forward and give thanks for this sweet time of year together with family and friends and 49 years with Penney. But it all pales in comparison to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. He IS the Reason for the season. I pray that my gift—me—will be a vessel unto honor and useful for His service. God isn’t looking for super stars. He’s looking for an open heart and our availability so He can enable us and empower us to be more like Him. May each of us lay the gift of ourselves at His feet this year.
Bonnie Lovelace is a contributing writer on The Hallelujah House. She is happily married to her husband Hub, and they have two children. When she’s not writing, Bonnie enjoys working in several ministries and regularly uses her talents for the glory of God. You can connect or read more about Bonnie by clicking here: About Bonnie.