I have had this blog post on my mind all month but nothing I thought of writing seemed appropriate.
Tonight though when I arrived home I stopped like I often do to stare up at the starry sky. Living in a tiny hamlet there isn’t much light pollution and so the night sky can be phenomenal.
I thought of that first Christmas over 2000 years ago and how the sky might have looked quite similar to this one; a million twinkling stars in an ink black sky.
However a starry night also reminds me of another night. And in thinking about that night I realized that I’ve never publicly told the story of how I came to know Jesus; about how Jesus came down to me.
Her name was Mrs. Welsh. She was my pastor’s wife and Sunday-school teacher when I was eight years old and my older sister was ten. Our family of six was not well off and we were usually on the outskirts of church events but the elderly (to me) Mrs. Welsh took a special interest in my sister and myself, even inviting the two of us to stay with her at Family Camp one year. We both went and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, especially her loving attention and how each evening she walked around the camp with us and told us about Jesus.
I was aware of the flannel graph Bible Stories and the story of Jesus’ birth but there was something different in the way I was hearing it now. Maybe it wasn’t just a nice story. Maybe it was real. As real as the love I could feel coming from Mrs. Welsh.
One night during Children’s Church the leaders again told us the story of Jesus and again invited any of us who wished to, to come up to the front and pray to receive Jesus into our lives. Every other night I had left the tent to run around the camp grounds or have hot chocolate in the hall but this night I stood frozen to my spot, my heart beating wildly. Finally, I got up the nerve and went up and knelt on the prickly straw. I sensed somebody kneeling beside me and looked over. It was my sister.
That was it. So simple. Nobody came and prayed with us and told us what to say. We were just two little girls praying in the straw to Jesus. Yet when I got up, I knew that I was forever changed. We raced from the tent to find Mrs. Welsh to tell her our good news.
It’s a little hard to explain how an eight year old child could possibly know that such an experience had forever altered her life. I didn’t think about it in such terms. I just remember the next night as I sat outside the camp office waiting for Mrs. Welsh to be done her duties.
The stars shone so brilliantly! How beautiful they twinkled! It was as if they shone just for me! For the first time I realized that there really was a God in heaven who had made them. He really did notice me. He really did love me.
Nothing else had changed in my life. Later that night my parents would call and ask for us to be brought home as my grandfather had died.
And so I went home. Back to a home with a volatile father who didn’t know how to show me that I was loved and a mother, who although I knew she loved me, was so burdened down with dealing with our father and looking after her four daughters, that I often felt unnoticed.
Everything was still the same.
And yet everything was different.
All because one night…..
Jesus came down to me.