My first memory of Christmas is of the night before, and that just after reading the account of the birth of Jesus from the Bible to us, my dad talked my mother into letting me open one present on Christmas Eve. I had only asked for one thing, a train like the ones from the westerns he and I watched together, most importantly, it had to blow smoke from the stack. Looking back he was just as happy as I was about mom giving in and letting me open one gift. Yes! The train blew smoke from the stack, and whistled!
The train was probably very small and traveled the oval track very quickly, but it seems big in my memory. My dad’s smile was big, I’m sure of that! He told me later when we said goodnight prayers that the reason he smiled so big is that he had done something for his son that made him very happy. He said that it made him feel happy to make me happy.
I’ve lost the train, as we moved a few times and it didn’t make it all the way to our final destination. I’ve also lost the dad I had then, along with so many other boys of that time, who left his family before he was able to see me grow up. I haven’t lost the happiness, no, that happiness has been a growing thing in my life since then, and especially since the day Jesus became my Savior.
One Sunday morning, in our Children’s Church at Haverhill Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, an invitation to know Jesus as Savior was given. Today’s adults would cringe and squirm over the length of the invitation as each week the simple plan of God’s gift of salvation was shared in its fullness. Scripture verses and their meaning flowed out from the one giving the invitation each week and at the end we bowed our heads and if we believed then we were able to pray to be saved. Afterwards, a girl in our group and I met with one of the leaders and we were able to talk it out with him and tell him why we had prayed that prayer of salvation on this particular Sunday morning.
The invitation that morning had been some meaningful to me in that he focused on the love of God the Father and how he sent His Son, Jesus, to be the very best gift that could be given to me. Somewhere in the invitation I started to think of God the Father as a dad who loved me, and wanted for me to have this great gift and that if I had it I would have a happiness that nothing else in life would bring to me. I wanted to know if I accepted this gift would it make Him happy, because having salvation made me happy and I wanted forgiveness for the things that were not making anyone happy.
Every year as Christmas is drawing near it is the presence of my salvation that I think about, feel in my heart, and want to share with my loved ones. Jesus is the greatest gift my Father could give me and after being saved I was even happier to discover that in Jesus is also the way of life, the truth of life, and eternal life. Christmas for me, among many other things, is a father being sure to give his children the most important and greatest gift that can be given and the happiness from that brings smiles to all their faces.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17 KJV).