“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…
- Matthew 6:19-21
“Once upon a Christmas time, long ago, a man who had a big heart, but little money, dreamt he could give his friends endless riches. When he awoke, the dream kept running through his mind, over and over.
”Finally, he asked himself, ‘If I could give my friends anything, what would I give?’ He smiled as he began to think of all the wonderous things he could buy for them.
“But then he thought, ‘I am a happy man, yet I have none of those things.’
“And he began to think that perhaps real wealth could not be measured in riches.”
- Brian Morgan, The Legend of the Christmas Prayer
I had wanted to pack this very short book (the one quoted above) to share it with my younger son’s family. You know how the story goes. It was hiding in plain sight. My Dad had made a small bookshelf, one with sliding sides that could hold a few books. We placed it at the entrance of our home. We filled it with inspirational books, most of which we’d read before. We wanted guests to know what we were all about. When they see thick collections of the works of C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and others, along with a Bible, it tells them what one of our interests in reading is. Of course, we must dust so that we give the impression that the books are there to impress and not read.
In amongst these well-read books, there was this tiny one. As I said, hiding in plain sight and easily found as I opened the door after driving about 750 miles in two days. Even with my eyes blurry, and still seeing phantom cars about to cut me off from the other lane, I still saw the little book. The only book on the little shelf that had not been read.
What a treasure we missed. The book could easily be read in a few minutes. In my copy, there were 58 pages, but there were rarely more than two sentences on a page and often the facing page would be an illustration. The prayer went through the twelve days of Christmas and listed a Christmas prayer for each day, a means of blessing his friends with the things that sustained this old man who had a big heart. Part of it lists the fruit of the Holy Spirit, but then there were a few others, wise sayings in a busy world.
But it got me to thinking about this past couple of weeks. The photo above is our younger son’s oldest, playing the drums that he got from Santa Claus. Santa Claus gave me, and the rest of the family, tom and snare drum and high-hat mutes so that the drums did not make too much noise.
Our youngest grandchild was excited about everything that he got and played with it as much as possible, even getting excited about his new clothing.
The sister, born between the other two, wasn’t excited about much of anything. She was very quiet. Then again, a day later she came down with an ear infection. The novice drummer and I were the only ones to not get sick – at least I didn’t get sick until I got home, the sinus thing that is going around – not the flu. My son’s family is all better, but my wife, who is supposed to be helping them, is still sick a week later. I guess she wanted to be sick at the same time that I was…
We would have settled, as a good gift, for good health after Christmas instead of the ‘riches’ that were bestowed upon the family. But, when we got there, my son and his wife groaned when we insisted on singing Christmas songs. No one was in the mood. We are praying that the mood will shift once our son is back at work and the children are back in school. Our son was supposed to be back today, but due to some setbacks in his therapy, he might not get back to work until next Monday.
Hmmm. In the little book, the prayer for the sixth day of Christmas is for ‘patience’. As of the new year, our son’s in-laws have quit paying his medical bills. That leaves us paying for the rent, food, and utilities plus seven more therapy sessions at about $150 each, hopefully only seven. I am not good at patience. Maybe this was my test, giving the therapists my credit card information and trusting that God will put a stop to the madness. Not my son, but the madness of the situation.
Yet, reading that little book brought to my heart, the prayer for the first day. I needed to be better grounded. I needed to be reminded of the things that were most important. My son wanted his children to not miss Christmas and we helped with that. But as God wants a personal relationship with us, strengthening our parent-son relationship was a good gift too. You just can’t do that by shipping packages.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.