As the holidays approach, I often think back to a Christmas in the late 1940s when I was about five- or six-years-old living in post-WWII England. It was a time when things were very tight from a materialistic perspective, and everyday folks were still living on “ration cards.” This particular year, my Aunt Flo and a friend came to stay with us from Christmas until New Years. I always loved how we would have visitors for Christmas. There was always such joy…so much laughter, caroling, great food, and time for Christmas Eve services. Like most kids, I woke up early on Christmas day, pouncing out of bed; there were my presents at the foot of the bed, a toy or two, and the dreaded clothes. But, I quickly spotted my stocking (one of my dad’s old socks), and at the bottom of the sock was something round and very big. What could it be? I quickly dumped the contents (an apple or two, various types of nuts, and probably some sweets (i.e., candy)). Whatever was in the bottom, it was so large it wouldn’t drop out. I thrust my hand in, and what did I find? The largest orange I had ever seen. It was a Jaffa orange–they come from Israel–and it was all mine. I quickly devoured the whole thing, rind and all. It was a present from my Aunt Flo, and to this day, it remains one of my fondest Christmas memories. What makes it even more special, the entire week she stayed with us, I woke up to another orange. How much she must have loved me and what a wonderful thing she did for a little boy!
Some seventy years later, it is amazing to look back on how God put so many loving people in my life. Most of the time, I was oblivious to how loving our Father is, and it wasn’t until I was saved did I realize what great things He has done and continues to do. Sometimes, I do lament that it took me so long to get it. I had read all the Bible stories, heard a litany of sermons, and been awed by numerous amazing testimonies, but it never got personal. But looking at the Apostles, it took the Holy Spirit descending on them to finally get it. They lived, traveled, ate, and watched Jesus teach, heal, and prophesize for three years. Yet they still didn’t understand what was going on. They argued as to who would sit at his right side, Peter denied Him three times, one of them betrayed Him, and Thomas even doubted He had risen. When they saw Jesus raise a dead man (Lazarus) from the grave, surely at least one or two must have begun to believe that He was who He said He was. But no, when Jesus was crucified, they ran, hid, and believed it was over. Then He did the most amazing thing for them and for us, the greatest miracle of all time: “He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” (1 Cor. 15:4) Then, when Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with them and made it available to all those who believe that He died for their sins.
Being saved and having the Holy Spirit come to reside within me is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth.” (John 14:15-17) All gifts pale in comparison to this gift as it is the gift of God himself. This gift of the Holy Spirit is what empowers me to try to walk like Jesus did and motivates me to share my testimony.
On Sunday mornings, I attend an inspiring worship service at 8 am. It kick-starts my weekly walk with Jesus. Occasionally, we sing a song entitled “He Has Done Great Things” sung by Phil Wickham. The refrain goes as follow:
Come let us worship our King
Come let us bow at His feet
He has done great things
See what our Savior has done
See how His love overcomes
He has done great things
He has done great things*
Just as I couldn’t get enough of Aunt Flo’s oranges on that Christmas week a long time ago, now I can’t get enough of Jesus. With the Jaffa oranges, I was selfish and wouldn’t share them with my brothers. With Jesus, I want to share Him with everyone so they, too, can experience the joy and life-changing power of being a Child of God.
Here’s Wishing You a Merry Christmas and a Christ-filled 2020.
Feature Image: Alan Tucker
*Songwriters: Jonas Myrin / Phil Wickham