This last trip to Florida for me was great, but in trying to get home for Christmas there were many obstacles to arrive safely. Timing, bad weather and just plain fatigue were contributors, and it seemed like it was an uphill battle. As I was driving up Alabama 65 though, things took a turn for the better. Passing several dead deer hit by passing motorists and many vehicles that had spun out in the driving rain, an old southern preacher came on the radio with a sermon I will not soon forget.
It was about how he and his wife had gotten kicked out of a Waffle House because of no one to serve them (the waitresses had either quit or called in sick), and how they had traveled about 3 miles away to another one where they were treated like royalty. Their waitress, a young girl in her late 20's was serving them and the preacher decided to ask her if she knew Jesus. She did, and proceeded to tell them the story of her life and how she had met the Lord after 7 years in prison.
Moved and happy to be enjoying one of his favorite breakfast spots, he felt the Lord nudging him to leave her a big tip. He remembered that $100 bill he had stashed in his wallet for a rainy day that not even his wife knew about. He felt the Lord urging him to give up that stash to the waitress, but he was severely resistant, wondering if that was God or just the devil playing with him. Like we might be, he was looking for excuses why not to give that $100, so he asked his wife, "Honey should we give that young lady a big tip?" (This is of course what we men do when faced with a decision we don't want to make, ask the woman to re-enforce us?).
Unfortunately she said "Yes" and now the preacher was beginning to sweat because he now knew it was the Lord asking him to give up something of great value to another human being he barely knew. As he reluctantly walked up to the counter to pay the bill, he reached out his hand with that $100 in it and shook the hand of the waitress, telling her the Lord told him to bless her. Now balling in tears, the waitress knew now she could afford Christmas presents for her children. The Lord had sent her a gift for Christmas, and she could go home to those kids with her faith re-affirmed.
The preacher of course received a severe reprimand from his wife from whom he had hidden that stash (in a loving way of course), but in the end he had realized why he had gotten kicked out of that other Waffle House. The Lord wanted that $100 to have a new home for Christmas, and he wanted to teach the preacher a lesson in priorities. You see, when things don't look so good to us, when it seems like we are mistreated, disrespected and denied what we want, that may be the exact moment God is ready to use us to bless someone else.
Sort of like, a certain young couple who were denied a place to stay, who ended up in a barn and delivered the most precious gift ever received to a world full of strangers who didn't deserve it. Jesus didn't have a real home for Christmas, only a temporary place to stay. Sort of like that $100 bill stashed in an obscure spot in a wallet, that became the topic of many future sermons for that preacher. And each time he told the story, someone would come up to him after the sermon and give him a $100 bill, which he in turn, would give away again to bless someone else.
It, as did our precious Lord and savior, became the gift that keeps on giving. This Christmas may he find a home in your heart as well, and though the trip to get there may have been filled with detours and trials, once you have received his gift you will always Be Home For Christmas!
Joy To The World, Glenn
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.