The following is a testimony from my friend Sara Weber who has graciously agreed to allow me to share her beautiful words. Her testimony moved me greatly and I hope it will move you too.
For many years now, and I do mean many, I’ve struggled with Christmas. I’ve longed for the anticipation, excitement and wonder that filled me as a child at this wonderful time of year. Growing up in the late sixties and early seventies Christmas was a big deal…It started the day after Thanksgiving and lasted till after New Year’s. That’s how my mom did it. She made Christmas special! There were Christmas cookies, dozens of them, lights, decorations, music, presents, and of course Santa, everything a child dreams of all year long, but during and in the midst of all this was the underlying knowledge and hope that this wasn’t it. There was much more to Christmas. Something that would or should last the whole year long.
As I grew up, I did my best to carry that “tradition” to my own family of children, and I hope I did. But as the year flew by and my children grew up and were married with families of their own, Christmas was lost to me. Anticipation and expectation were gone. Sure Thanksgiving came and decorations went up, cookies were baked, but by mid December I was DONE!!! Let’s just get this over with! I was sick to death of hearing Christmas caroles on the radio, well maybe there were a few that still could muster a fond memory or two, but Elvis’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” made me want to vomit up those Christmas cookies.
After my Mom died 6 years ago it got worse. I didn’t even want to put up the decorations, if it weren’t for my Emma, I probably wouldn’t have. The Christmas Eve my Mom went home to be with Jesus, was the year Bob, Emma and I were in an accident on Interstate 39, going home to be with my sister and brothers for our first Christmas without Mom. Here is where my journey begins.
As I lay in the hospital that night, with Nancy my daughter, sleeping in the chair next to my bed, I pleaded with God for the wonder and anticipation I felt when I was a child. That night I had what I think was my very first prophetic dream. I was seeing the accident, as if I were a spectator. I saw that very large, very red Mac semi coming right at us and hitting the side of the SUV, the side I happened to be on. As I watched, 3 angels appeared, not the glowing pretty white ones we see on top of our Christmas trees, but three huge strong warrior angels, they were holding back that Mac truck. The truck did hit the car with a great force, enough to pin my legs to the point of needing to be cut out of the vehicle, but I know that if it were not for those angels I and probably Bob and Emma as well would have surely been celebrating Christmas in heaven with my Mom that year. I always wondered, why three angels? Later I came to understand that those were our guardian angels. They weren’t just there for me, but for all of us.
Through the course of the next several months, God revealed to me that we, Bob, Emma and myself still had things God needed us to do. I thought to myself, but You can use anyone, why me? Jesus lovingly told me that yes indeed He could use anyone, and that He didn’t need me, but He WANTED me. Even after all this, I still struggled with Christmas! I must be one of those remedial learners, God has to say, OK, let’s try this again.
So fast forward to this year. Several months ago I started asking God to circumcise my heart. To cut out the iniquity in me, the sin nature, to make me Holy even as He is Holy. He revealed to me that my heart was hard, with many layers, much like a quarry, and He was going to have to dig through them one by one to reveal to me the hurts, forgiveness, and bitterness I had pushed down and paved over time after time for countless years. I needed to look at them and release them to Him the one who could release me from the bondages they held me in. He told me, “This will be uncomfortable and painful at times, but if you REALLY want what you are asking for it must be done”. So I pressed forward and gave up the ground I had been holding on to and protecting all of these years. Heavy equipment was involved and the excavation process had begun.
As He dug down deeper and deeper this Christmas issue came to the surface AGAIN! He asked me gently, “What is it that you want to do with this?” My reply was the same. I want the wonder of Expectation and Anticipation I had when I was a child. He again gently said “And what does that look like to you?” I said it looked like downtown La Salle, all decorated with red and green lighted lamp posts, the lighted garlands that were strung across the streets, the shops decorated with tinsel Christmas trees, and snow! Yes, there had to be snow! He smiled at me and began to dig again. He quietly asked me, “Is that REALLY what you want? or do you want MY wonder, expectation and anticipation?” I reluctantly said “I want what You have for me.” As I laid down MY desires for His, He showed me as He spoke to me. ” What you desire does not come from these memories, they are wonderful memories and I don’t want you to forget them, they are part of you. What you really want is the Wonder the shepherds had on the night I gave Myself to be born a human. Those shepherds, had lost hope too. The Father had been silent for four hundred years! Anticipation and expectation was reserved for the most devotedly faithful. They still had a glimmer of hope in the prophetic words of long ago. But then angels of light broke through the darkest of night and sang a song of HOPE! Fear not, the Messiah has been born! GO, see for yourselves. Worship the new born King! The king they believed would rescue them from their immediate bondage.
Yes Lord, I know that, but…………Not saying a word, He smiled at me and went back to digging. As I stood there puzzled I saw it, there in the distance, beyond the manger. Ultimate love, hope, anticipation! Stretched out on a cross! MY Jesus, beaten, bleeding and dying, FOR ME!
As I fell to my knees, He left his digging and came to me. “You see Sara, I wanted you to have My very best, but I couldn’t as long as you were holding on to your own ideas. We needed to dig through these layers so you could “see” with your heart what your Mom taught you in your mind. Before tinsel Christmas trees, before snow, before the manger, before the first star twinkled in the night sky, before there was light at all, the decision had been made. The Father and I planned it all! I was to be the HOPE, the ANTICIPATION and the EXPECTATION for you and all mankind. It is My gift to you, you can’t buy it or deserve it in anyway, You just have to accept it!”
So here I am this Christmas, knowing Jesus has many more layers to dig through to make me Holy as He is holy, but with a new Hope, a new Expectation, and a new Anticipation. Now that I’ve seen it I can’t stop seeing it!
As I look back over the last year and remember the messages that have been delivered from this pulpit, God has prepared my heart to for this moment. This Christmas holds new meaning for me and I pray that all of us can see beyond the manger to the cross and the hopeful, anticipation of celebrating Christmas with Jesus for all eternity.