Eternal Hope


Post Christmas check-in.

How are you doing? Are you rested and recovered from the blur of last-minute preparations? 

December 24, 7:00 pm

There is excitement in the air! Lights are twinkling, carols are playing, gifts are waiting. All is merry and bright.

December 25, 7:00 pm

Christmas is over. I ate too much. Tomorrow we have to clean up the mess, return and exchange gifts, and put all the decorations away. And where on earth is that gift for Uncle Joe that never arrived in the mail?

🎄🎄🎄

Beyond the Manger

The week before Christmas, my husband and I began watching The Chosen. (If you have not discovered this new series about the life and ministry of Jesus, be sure to check it out.)

Two days after Christmas, we discovered a special episode about Jesus’ birth. After watching it, I began thinking about the day after Jesus was born. What happened that day? The Bible doesn’t say specifically, but most likely, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus left the stable to pay their taxes. And the manger went back to being a feeding trough for the animals. Imagine that.

For one night, that manger became a humble bed for our Savior, yet over 2,000 years later, it still fills us with hope. So, as you begin packing away your decorations this week, and Christmas 2020 becomes a distant memory, remember that Immanuel — God with us — remains forever.

Prayers from a Stranger

Last week was busy . . . and stressful. My list of projects at home and at work had become a bit overwhelming. By Friday morning, I was was completely worn out and ready for the weekend.

I really didn’t have time for visitors in the office, but our sanctuary is always open during the day, especially for those wanting to pray. A pastor acquaintance brought some friends by to see our church, and to pray with them before they left town. Happy for even a brief chance to stand and stretch, I greeted our guests, and walked them to the sanctuary doors. The friends were siblings, a brother and sister from India, committed since childhood to lead others to salvation.

I was delighted to meet Brother Joe and Sister Jessie. I learned that their travels later in the day would take them to Dallas, Texas for a prayer gathering. Our church was their last stop on the way to the airport.

As much as I wanted to sit and hear more about their ministry, I needed to get back to work. They prayed together in the sanctuary for about 30 minutes, and then stopped by my office again to thank me before leaving. The exit doors clicked shut behind them, but a moment later I heard the door open again. Sister Jessie shyly came into my office and smiled at me. “May I pray for you?” she asked.

Heaven Sent

I have no idea what may have prompted Jessie to return and pray for me, but I know who did. This godly woman, who I had met only moments earlier, was prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for me.

Sister Jessie stood by my side and gently laid her hand on my shoulder, praying words of love, strength and encouragement over me. It was like a soft, soothing rain shower falling on the parched desert floor. Tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes as her prayer concluded.

What do you say to someone who prays into your heart? I could only thank Jessie, and hope that she knew how her prayer had touched me. She asked me if I had ever been to India, and invited me to visit. We exchanged hugs and contact information, and then she was gone.

Connected by Faith

The rest of my day went smoothly. By 5:00 p.m. I had completed every project that had been weighing me down all week.

Kind words and a simple prayer — offered by a stranger — helped to lift the burdens that were weighing me down. Those healing words from Sister Jessie’s heart were a powerful reminder of the connection I share with all my sisters and brothers in Christ worldwide. We may be separated by the physical boundaries of distance, but our hearts are joined by our faith in Jesus.