This is not a Christmas quote, but it struck me as particularly appropriate with Christmas, only two days away:
“We must take care, we parents, that we speak less of the problems, the difficulties, the headaches and heartaches and backaches of this work than we do of Him and His glory.”
These words were written by first lady of the faith, Ruth Bell Graham in her book, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them. Ruth wanted to be a missionary - on the go, spreading the Word of God. Instead, she ended up raising five children, mostly by herself, while her husband Billy Graham traveled the world, holding giant crusades and preaching to more people than anyone else in history.
Ruth had a hard job. She knew the trials of being alone, sometimes envious of her mate’s freedom to come and go, in the work she longed to do. She struggled to hold her ground with their prodigal children who kept her up nights and sent her to her knees, weeping in prayer. Her poetry and insights are a treasure of wisdom borne from experience. A fiery little gal and prayer warrior, she loved and supported her husband through years of ministry, heartache, popularity and ridicule.
If anyone had reason to grumble a little about the difficulties of serving the Lord, she did. That’s why her words resonate so loudly in my head. Most of all, now. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, but also extremely busy and exhausting. What message do we want to send our children and those around us about Christmas?
Today, I had to go to the grocery store to get a few last things for our Christmas meal. I have never seen so many people in one store! I couldn’t find a parking space anywhere in the entire lot until someone pulled out. I got one of the last two grocery carts available and wove my way through aisle after aisle of disgruntled shoppers, all fighting to get in, get done, and get out.
I breathed the name of Jesus constantly to remind myself to be pleasant and relaxed. I was aware that I was supposed to be home for a delivery in just 30 minutes; would I make it? I made a concerted effort to visit with the lady behind me in line and be cheerful to my exhausted checker. It didn’t take any longer than if I had rushed and snarled and complained, inwardly or outwardly.
I have not always done so well in the hearing of my children and husband. I’m so glad I read Ruth’s words this morning. It prodded me to remember why we do all this – entertaining, presents, travel, programs, cards and letters – it’s all to revel in the joy of Jesus – here, in person. So let’s be glad!
We’ll most likely stay up too late, eat too much, and be tired from all the extra work. I pray we will keep our focus on why we’re doing it all, and communicate that to our kids and everyone we meet. After we remind ourselves and take a calming breath.
Merry Christmas everyone!