Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Coat of Muted Colors

Throughout December, I'll be sharing some of my favorite Christmas stories in the form of Advent Season devotionals. What an honor to share my memories!

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your owrk and in everything you put your hand to.

[Deuteronomy 15:10] -- NIV

What a treat it was, shopping with my mother and her friend Darlene. We bought new socks for my brother and underwear for my sisters. Apparently my mother didn't think I needed anything, but when we eventually wandered into the Girls 4-6x department of Sears, my hopes began to rise as we found ouselves in outerwear. A new coat? Snow pants? I ran my finges along the sleeves and cuffs, loving the vvvttt sound of stubby fingernails on nylon. I was in anticipatory heaven.

"My niece needs a new winter coat," said Darlene. "Her parents can't afford to buy her one, so I'm planning to." She bent to my level and put her arm across my shoulder as if engaging me in a a secret mission. "Would you help me pick one out? She's about your age."

"Couldn't we just give her my old coat?" I asked. "Then I could get a new one."

"We really can't afford a new coat either right now," my mother said. "Maybe for Christmas."

Oh, now this was fair. Choose her coat? Why not ask me to drive a knife through my heart with my own hand? Goodness knows my old coat wouldn't be thick enough to protect me from its fatal stab.

Thumbing through the rack half-heartedly, I removed a garment. It was hideous, and as much as my mother tried to talk me into something else, I insisted this was the perfect coat for that lucky little girl--all the while inwardly gloating that she would be stuck wearing it all winter. I figured she ought to be grateful she got a new coat at all; I wasn't getting one.

Until, under my mother's wise, watchful eye, I unwrapped that very coat for Christmas.

Father, help me not to focus on what I do not have, but rather to see the abundance of blessings heaped all around me. Help me to love those in need, to see the void in their lives, and to be a vehicle for the generosity of the Holy Spirit.