I love Christmas music. As the cold dreary days of November roll in, I'm eagerly digging through my collection of Christmas CDs. Its not just the music I love, but the whole spirit that Christmas brings. The homey side of myself responds to the feeling of goodwill, goodness, friendship, and family. And I confess that the temporal side of me enjoys that expectant excitement and impatient anticipation that permeates the festive season.
One Christmas season a few years ago, I purchased tickets to a concert at the People's Church in Toronto. This is a program that is produced yearly, and I had heard glowing reviews from friends who had attended previous shows, That year's presentation was called "The Living Christmas Tree." So, one snowy Saturday evening in December, Byron and I drove into Toronto along with a group with similar intent.
Arriving a bit early, we drove to a nearby strip mall for drinks. Quickly grabbing a few bottles of juice from the cooler, I hurried through the purchase and, with hands full, left the store. Rushing to the car, I shivered in the cold, Opening the car door, a welcome blast of warm air from the car's heater encouraged me to slam the door shut against the frigid December air, This was not a night to linger outside. As Byron maneuvered through the banks of snow piled high in the parking lot, a quick glance at my watch told me that the 6 p.m. show would now be Over.
Arriving at the church, we found our seats and sat down to wait for the program to begin. My excitement mounted when I caught sight of the orchestra seated almost directly in front of where we sat. Contentment flowed through me—it didn't get much better than this. People milled about the lobby and up and down the aisles, but I settled into my seat, transfixed at the sight of the vast evergreen tree that dominated the stage, obviously the main prop of the program. I was ready to experience a very special evening—how special, I was about to find out.
Shortly before the program was to begin, I noticed someone go by with a CD in his hand, which prompted the thought that if I wanted to purchase music, I should do it now. When the program was finished, I had no desire to hear the crush of the crowds in the lobby. Picking up my purse snugly tucked beside me, I casually opened it to get some money from my wallet. The purse was not overly large and it didn't take but a moment to see that my wallet was not there. Unbelieving, but quietly so as not to create a stir, I rummaged through my purse again —and again. I knew that I had it at the store a short while before.
It seems that losing a wallet should not be a devastating experience, but this was a particular time in my life when I felt unable to cope with "one more thing." I knew that I was going to have to explain the situation to my husband. Dreading to spoil this evening, I leaned over and explained that I was going to have to go back to the mall to see if my wallet was still there somewhere—knowing that it couldn't be. After asking all the obvious questions, Byron said that he was coming with me, so we got up to leave, Byron barely able to keep up with my hurried stride.
Breathing a prayer with every step to the car, I felt the sting of a flurry of snow swirling around the parking lot in the cold winter wind. My stomach tensed as I sensed my husband's unspoken "How could you have left your wallet?" My words were frozen inside me as we silently drove the short distance to the store we had left a half hour before. Pulling into the lot with the words "I don't know why we came back; if you dropped it here, someone will have picked it up long ago." Byron parked the car. Jumping out of the vehicle and starting toward the brightly lit store, I blinked in disbelief. In plain sight for any passerby to see was my wallet. Someone had indeed found it and carefully placed it on a snowy ledge on one of the curb posts. Sure that it must be empty, I opened it with trembling fingers. Everything was as I had left it, nothing was missing, including the cash. My heart nearly burst with relief and gratitude. With a smile as wide as my face I raced to the car to show my disbelieving husband and exult in the impossibility of it all.
We didn't have to go back to the program to gain a blessing that evening, but we did. I wanted to run to the front of the church and shout my joy, but this timid self halted short of such public exuberance. Instead, we again found our seats. Outwardly, we probably looked the same as before, except that perhaps people wondered why I had what must have been a glowing smile on my face throughout the entire program. But when one's heart is so full of joy and gratitude, it has to be expressed somehow. Looking over at Byron, I noticed that his smile lines were showing too. It's a good day when you receive such an assurance of God's care and love—it's even better when you can share it.
May you experience the love, peace, and joy of this special season, and may you not forget, through all the tinsel and toys that may surround you, the precious gift of Jesus our Saviour, who never stops giving all the good and enduring things in our lives.