A Christmas Lesson
By Mary Tabar
Two years ago I had a spiritual awakening by God and He speaks to my heart often.
In the Christmas bustle, I scurried out of the shopping center and onto the next store with my daughter, shopping for an outfit to wear to her first band program, (something we really couldn’t afford), when a woman with her two children desperately rushed towards us as we approached our car. She began explaining to me that her family was struggling and that she urgently needed my help. She proceeded to tell us that they had no food, no Christmas tree, unpaid bills, and anything we could do for them was greatly appreciated. I looked into my pre-teens eyes and could almost see what she was thinking. We both knew that if we didn’t conform to assisting them, this woman and her children would haunt us throughout the Christmas season. As quickly as my thoughts rushed through my brain, I told the woman we would buy them some food. “You must be a Christian”, she stated and I proudly nodded my head.
In my mind, I was thinking about what a great opportunity to show my impressionable daughter the spirit of Christmas. What a perfect chance to demonstrate by action, that although reading the Bible is good, living its principles is what being a Christian is all about. I saw this situation as a gift from God that could be passed on through this learning experience. My emotions were flooded with excitement.
When we entered the grocery store, I explained that I could only afford to give her seventy-five dollars. Instantly, the woman’s persona changed dramatically. She acted as if the money I offered wasn’t enough and she began filling her cart with unnecessary items, such as, soda, chips, and candy. Appalled at their attitudes, my daughter and I quietly watched them shop. Feeling that I may be taken advantage of further, I excused myself and purchased gift cards at the counter in the amount that I had promised. “This may not be enough”, she exclaimed as I handed her the cards. I had to repeat a second time that this was all my family could afford and suggested that she buy only necessities, such as; eggs, milk, meat, and bread. Needing a break from this situation, (if I hadn’t of maintained a Christ-like attitude, it would have been all for nothing), I took my daughter and left them to their shopping. In the car, I explained to my daughter that although it seemed as if we were be ing taken for granted, God judges our hearts and this would best be left to Him. I reminded her how important it is to keep our faith strong, especially in a dilemma, such as this.
When they returned to the car with the food, I offered to help load the groceries. I noticed that there was barely any food in the cart, as I unpacked a couple of cases of soda, chips, and a gallon of milk, (hardly, seventy-five dollars worth). When she climbed into my vehicle, she made a remark about how my money didn’t go very far. Biting my tongue, I got the directions to where they lived and drove them home. All the way there, this woman kept begging us for cash. I went into great detail with her about how my family, too, was financially struggling and I declined to give her more money.
My daughter and I were in absolute disbelief when we pulled into the driveway of a beautiful four bedroom home. A plump round dog ran at me as I helped carry in some of the groceries. Peeking into the home, I observed the nice furnishings and beautiful décor throughout their house. I cannot begin to express how gullible and ashamed I felt. How could I allow myself to be taken advantage of to this degree? Oh, the embarrassment upon re-entering the car and having to face my daughter was unbearable.
As I drove home, I rolled so many thoughts over and over in my mind…Was I targeted because I had a fish emblem on my car? What could I have done differently? Should I have given them a piece of my mind? Was there a lesson in this from God? How many other victims were there? Is this a police matter? Will my daughter be scarred from this? Are this woman’s children victims? Should I tell my husband what happened…my thoughts plagued me for the next few days.
The following Sunday, after church, my family went to lunch with a friend. A conversation pursued about winning the lottery. I said that I would immediately give 35% of my winnings to God and His kingdom. My husband asked why 35% when God only requires 10%? While trying to come up with a suitable answer, my mind instantly flashed back to the story of the women and her children. I revisited all the parts of the story that kept me so frustrated and angry. I remembered how upset I was because the woman never appreciated any of the help that I gave her. Not once did she offer to help my family in return (not that I would have let her). She never showed any sympathy towards the struggles my family was facing. She just wanted more and more.
It was in that moment I could hear God clearly speaking to me as if He was standing right next to me whispering in my ear. “Isn’t this how many Christians treat me”, He questioned. ”I supply them with their needs every day and many of them never even stop to thank me. Many people complain that it isn’t enough and they even hesitate when it comes to tithing. Others spend most of their earnings on un-necessary items for themselves, rather than sharing with those less fortunate. They refuse to help me with my desires, such as, advancing my kingdom by loving others, especially their enemies, something that doesn’t even cost them money. Every day I feed and clothe my children and they never look back and appreciate it. Even now, in this moment, you are in good health, your bills are paid, you have a hot meal, and you will sleep in a warm bed tonight. Yet still, your conversation consists of whether you will advance yourself by winning in the lottery. Shouldn’t fellowshipping with me be more about building a relationship, and less about expecting more and more?”
Humiliation crept over my body. The shame I felt in the car that night was nothing compared to the shame I felt standing before God that afternoon. I asked myself, “How many times did I take advantage of God after all he’s done for me?” Ask yourself right now, “How many times have you?” So in closing, I want to share God’s message to all who will hear it. I want to thank Him for the encounter with the woman that I was so bitter and angry with just days earlier. Through this unfortunate circumstance, I was reminded of God’s mercy and love for all of us, every…single…day.
(© 2010 Mary Tabar – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)