CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY

Christmas came early one year. It was on December 5, 1972 that I received the best Christmas present ever. As a child I received a few Christmas gifts that are on my “Best-Ever Presents” list: A ballerina doll, a Jon Gnagy “Learn-to-Draw” Kit, my first 2-wheeler bike with training wheels, and a Flexible Flyer sled.  Each gift elicited the exclamation every parent loves to hear on Christmas morning: “Oh, it’s just what I wanted!” but it was years later that I received the gift that was not only something I asked God for, it forever changed the course of my life and my marriage. I was 22-years old and had been married less than 2-years when my husband surprised me with a gift that has remained at the top of my “Best-Ever Presents” list for 39 years in the running.  As we drove home from Bible study I asked him what he thought of the message; it was on Bible prophecies related to Christ’s Second Coming. Jon replied, “I believe it.” “You do?” I asked, unable to contain my surprise. It had been a trying nine months since I first professed my faith in Jesus on the previous Good Friday. That day, I told Jon I prayed to ask Jesus to be my savior and that I was going to stop abusing alcohol and drugs. I said I planned to find a church where I could learn more about the Bible. He replied, “That’s fine, if that’s what you want to do, but don’t ever ask me to go to church or tell me to quit drinking or using drugs.” Months later, it was apparent that our marriage was in trouble. It was actually in trouble from the beginning due to our substance abuse, but the changes I was making rocked the boat further. We committed to finding things we could do together, i.e. I would accompany him as he hauled equipment for a friend’s rock band, if he promised not to drink or get high that night. Jon would not attend regular Sunday services, but he agreed to attend special events with me at church. My husband’s simple declaration of faith that night after Bible study was the answer to the Number One request on my prayer list for many months. That very night Jon told his best friend that he had trusted Christ and he was giving up alcohol and drugs. The following Sunday Jon joined me at church. Tears welled as familiar Christmas carols suddenly had personal meaning: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room…” Christmas came early in 1972 – my husband made room for Christ in his heart. So pardon me if I celebrate Christmas early in my heart today – December 5th is the day I received the best Christmas present ever! May our hearts still prepare Him room this Advent...