Hope Fills the White Stocking

Have you heard the legend of the White Stocking?white stocking

This tradition was begun by a mother who realized her family was so consumed by the trappings and gifts of Christmas, they had forgotten the true meaning of the celebration. She wrote a poem, outlining her plans for Christmas morning.

The white stocking hung throughout the season, empty, yet in a special place on the mantel. Then on Christmas morning, everyone in the family received a piece of paper.

On the paper, they wrote a gift they wanted to give Jesus. Then they placed their papers in the stocking. It was a practical and visual way to remember the meaning of the season.

What can I give the King of kings this Christmas season?

It would be easy to list the usual Sunday School answers:

  • I’ll give him my heart
  • my ten per cent tithe
  • make him the Lord of my life
  • give him all my worship

While these answers may come from a pure heart, they lose their credibility in the repetition. I want to be more specific – to make myself accountable to this idea and perhaps check myself throughout 2018.

To be entirely credible, I decided to ask the Lord what he wanted from me. He has everything he needs, and he knows me better than anyone else – this One who fashioned me in my mother’s womb, then held me in his arms after I slithered from her body.

This One who has held me through this difficult year, over mountains of joy and within deepest pits of emotional valleys. What does he want from me?

As I reflected on 2017, one common attitude presented itself in a taupe ugliness: I have spent a great deal of this year wishing life could be different. Like a wimp, I have whined in my journals and on this blog.

When I asked Jesus what he wanted for Christmas, he nudged me toward my complaints and gently reminded me of all the things I should be grateful for.

I enjoy my work – writing and coaching writers – watching my clients reach their goals and celebrating with them.

Although I am tired of maintaining a house and the gardens have nearly done me in this year, I CAN still work in the gardens, planting and harvesting – eating from the produce God blesses.

In my house, I CAN still bend over carpet stains and rub them into oblivion, climb steps up and down – four levels – and climb on top of my car to change the bulb in the garage light.

Although I no longer play competitive softball or run up and down a basketball court, I CAN stretch in yoga poses and pump away calories on my exercise bike.

Although I tire of counting pennies and searching for coupons, trying to find the best deals – I CAN pay the bills. So far, my son and I have not starved.

We cannot expect life to be easy here on earth. The only way we reach the goal of the heavenly prize is to go through the hard stuff, to endure and persevere.

This year my white stocking will hold only three words – a gift I am going to be more intentional to give the baby in the manger who became the savior on the cross.

I hold out this gift to him because he deserves it. This gift also represents my hope that he will receive it with joy, understanding I am still flawed but trying, love me for my attempts to please him and to live my life with honor.

What gift will I give Jesus this Christmas? What shall I place in the white stocking?

“Thank you, Jesus.”

©2017 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

 

 

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Hope Calls The Young

young peopleOne after another they crossed the stage to receive their Bibles and certificates, their anointing and/or baptism.

Twenty-four of them – young people grafted into the church through the sacraments and boldly proclaiming, “I want everyone to know I’m a Christian.”


Although I knew none of them personally, I watched with a lump in my throat and remembered the day when I, too, publicly declared I would follow this Jesus person and dedicate my life to him.


Did these young people feel that warm glow of gracious love? Their faces certainly shone with the joy of the moment and the end result of being courageous enough to give their souls back to their Creator.

After the service, I felt hope renewed as another generation of young people prepared to step into life with a purpose. These are the messengers of the coming Messiah, the generation that will usher in the King of kings.

They humbled me with their sweet testimonies, projected on the video screen as they talked about moms, dads and friends who persuaded them to consider Jesus.

They excited me as I thought about the opportunities they would have in such a technological world. How many friends might they bring to the Truth just by posting on Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat?

I envy these young ones with their lives ahead of them. While I could share some tips with them, they will learn well from their own experiences. They must walk this road in relationship with the best Mentor possible and listen to the divine whisper for their instructions.

Hope called me young, and what I saw last Sunday in my church spread into ripples of anticipation for what God will do through these young people.

I can hardly wait to see what happens.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh