May the blessings of this special season find you this week as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Let us rejoice in His coming for His love and grace gives us hope.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Luke 2:11-12 – KJV
A dark, chilly night; quiet, lonesome. Lambs in the field, shepherds keeping watch.
Suddenly, the pitch black sky was eclipsed by a brilliant light. An angel stood among them, a heavenly messenger with a sign. Ordinary men on an ordinary night that was ordinary no more.
“And this shall be a sign unto you.”
Have you ever received a sign from the divine? Has your heart quickened at the sound of a word spoken? Have your eyes seen evidence of things not seen?
I have, and so has my neighbor.
On the evening of December 1st, my neighbor was standing at the kitchen stove frying some fish for her supper. A widow in her 80’s, Diane has lived alone for nearly nine years. The years since her devoted husband’s passing have been difficult for her, but this year has been one of the hardest. With the threat of the Covid crisis bearing down on her, Dianne has barely left her house this year. Her children drop off her groceries, their visits always outside, at a distance. No church, no lunches with her lady friends, no shopping adventures. Her Thanksgiving plate was delivered to her door, but she had to eat it alone. No jovial meal with her grandsons, just a word and a wave down the driveway.
And so as she fried her fish, she felt her spirits sag. What would Christmas be like this year? No tree decorating party with her grandsons. No pizza to munch on as they hung ornaments on her tree. No gift giving session, no opportunity to see the smiles on their faces as they open their presents. Would her Christmas dinner be just another meal taken alone?
These thoughts made Diane’s heart heavy as she turned toward her kitchen sink. But there at the window, something caught her eye. A flicker. A light.
In the pitch black darkness of her backyard, there was a glow, a trembling light that shouldn’t be there. She turned her gaze fully toward the steps of her back deck. There beside the steps, the flickering light turned to a full on glow. A lantern filled with light. A flame dispelling the darkness.
Diane stared at the sight, transfixed. Her mind quickened, her heart raced. A smile spread across her kind face. One of the antique lanterns nestled beside her wooden steps had come to life, a lantern that had not been turned on in years. No hand had touched it this night, and yet, there it was shining bright.
And she knew. She knew without a shadow of a doubt, that this was a sign, a divine message sent directly to her. The Lord had heard her cries of distress and send His Spirit to comfort her, not with a word, but with a sight, a light to dispel the darkness. The Lord had sent a very real reminder of His promise, “I am with you always.”
The lantern glowed all night long, spreading its glow to Diane’s aching heart. As dusk drew near the following night, Diane waited at her kitchen window holding her breath. Sure enough, there it was, the candle burning brightly, its glow returned once more. It came again the next night and the next.
Diane shared her story during our carport visit on Saturday morning. With a sparkle in her voice, she explained that her son had installed battery operated candles in those old lanterns, but she hadn’t bothered to turn them on in years. As she told her tale, I felt that familiar leap of joy, that shiver of wonder climb up my spine. Deep in my bones, I knew this was a sign, a message of hope and comfort to a lonely woman in a difficult time. Not only did the mysterious lantern lift her sagging spirits, it touched my heart too.
When her son came that afternoon, he took a look at the lantern. Taking care not to disturb it, he examined the candle, confirming that the switch was still firmly set in the off position.
That backyard flame burned Faithfully night after night bringing a spark of joy to Diane’s eyes. Because of it, she found the motivation to put up one of her Christmas trees on her back sunporch. Joy filled her heart when she turned on the tree and the room was flooded with twinkling light. It might be a different kind of Christmas, but it was still Christmas all the same.
Voice thick with disappointment, Diane called me the following Tuesday evening. The night was dark, and so was her lantern. As she lamented over the loss, I pointed out that the light had lasted a whole week, a week of light in a year full of darkness. The glow of that flame had spurred her to put up her tree instead of leaving it in its box as she had been tempted to do. Now a different set of lights lift her soul, lights that will see her through this Christmas season.
There are some who might discount the appearance of this unexpected light, waving it off as a short in the wiring or a jostling of the aging switch. But not me. I’m quite sure it was a sign, a message from the divine. A message of comfort sent to a fine Christian woman, lonesome and isolated in the midst of troubling times. Oh, and did I mention that Diane’s glowing lantern is hung on a wrought iron shepherd’s hook?
Yes, God is still in the business of miracles, sending messages when we need it most. He cared enough to show up to shepherds so long ago, and He shows up still in our moments of despair. He sends His light to break through this present darkness and give us hope.
Love came down at Christmas and brought us Hope. By His grace, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. May you and I have eyes to see the signs, and hearts that keep His flame alive.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Hebrews 10:23 – NLT
O God of Hope and Light, draw near to us this Christmas. As You drew near to Mary and Joseph, draw near to us. As You spoke to lonely shepherds in the field, speak to us. Remind us of Your promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Show us Your promise kept, the baby born in a manger in Bethlehem. Our Savior is born and He is with us and for us! All Glory to You, our King!
In the Wonderful Name of Jesus, we pray,