Not long ago, some friends of ours wanted to move to another country to explore new work possibilities and be closer to their family. Though they had countless difficulties throughout their preparations, including a last-minute complication at the airport, with the support of friends and the power of prayer, their move was a success. They reached their goal and now are trying their wings on new horizons. I’ve often told my friends and acquaintances who long to travel or live some other dream: put your desires in God’s hands, because He knows your heart and delights to see you happy.
My grandmother Sabina was a saint that I had the privilege to meet personally. She had no birth certificate, but went to school long enough to learn how to read well. She read her Bible daily and never missed a Sunday mass. She was kind and gentle, yet never missed an opportunity to teach us something to build our character, like the time my sister, my cousins, and I stole fruit from the neighbors. She only had to look at us when we got home to know we’d been up to mischief. After we admitted what we’d done, she had us go back and apologize.
I teach you how to have love through My own example. For every great miracle I do for you and all those who love Me, I do countless tiny things that you may barely notice. Those steady demonstrations of My care, My unconditional love, My touches of hope, strength, mercy, and forgiveness, day in and day out, continually manifest My love for you. This multitude of little things that I do for you increases your peace and faith. These things nurture the conviction in your heart that I am real and active in your life, and that I will be forever.
Christmas is “the season of joy” and “a time of cheer.” But as Christmas comes around, do you find yourself experiencing things far from joy and cheer?
If you look at each Christmas as needing to be bigger and better than the last, you’re probably anxiously filling up every moment with preparations toward that goal. But sometimes less is more.
I’ve been thinking how Christmas traditions vary not only from country to country, but from family to family.
“God is your father,” the young man said. “He came down at Christmas in human form. Through Jesus, you can know what God is like.” He looked at me with hopeful eyes, but I wasn’t convinced. “A father cares,” he continued. “A father watches over you and is always there.”
I went to my desk on Christmas Eve morning to find that our beloved sand clock glass had somehow broken. I threw it away, then fished it out again to take one last dramatic photo.
Sand clocks have always held a fascination for me, especially this one. It was a gift to my wife last Christmas, meant to represent “the gift of spending time together.” It also reminded me of a story and play I had written based around the symbolism of the sand clock.
Christmas can be likened to a Christmas gift, where the giver is God, the gift is Jesus, and the recipient is both the whole world and each of us personally. The analogy is based on what is probably the best known and most important verse in the Bible, John 3:16. I’d heard the analogy many times over the years and even used it myself, but the following email from Paloma Sridhar in Bangalore, India, added a surprising twist:
Another stressful, exhausting day was finally over. Frustration and fatigue hung heavily over me, a combination of hassles with my cranky computer, a gloomy sky with drizzles and chilling winds, the exasperation of burning the chicken for dinner—and a dozen other everyday annoyances.
After dinner with the burnt chicken, I set out for a nearby park. My mom often says that “nature can soothe ruffled nerves like nothing else can,” and I decided to put her advice to the test.
I know all about you—your gifts, your talents, your strengths. I also know your weaknesses, your idiosyncrasies, and all the funny things about you that make you an individual. I know about the nagging problems that you can’t seem to overcome and all the things about yourself that bother you. I know your heart’s desires and secret longings. There is nothing hidden from Me.