The first time God divinely provided for Christmas was in 1991. I was a bartender in a quiet lounge for a family restaurant. I am not exactly sure why I was broke that year. I guess Christmas sneaked up on me like it sometimes can with many people. Being broke at Christmas wouldn't bother me so much except for the fear of my four-year-old son's disappointment, when he wakes up Christmas morning, to find nothing under the tree.
My pastor frequently taught about God providing for the needs of His children. He also taught about having faith in God and trusting Him. So, as a baby Christian, I exercised my faith for God to provide for Christmas. I believed that God would put it on the heart of one of my customers to give me $100 ++ so that I could shop for presents. I wanted to get my son an electric racecar set, a dartboard, and a battery-operated remote-controlled car. Everyday, as Christmas approached, I believed that a customer would give me a huge tip.
My girlfriend who was a waitress for a family restaurant down the street often stopped in to visit me after she got off from work. One day during this time, she came in to visit. She was all excited while telling me that one of her customers gave her a $200 tip for Christmas! I thought to myself, "That was supposed to be my tip." Then I said to God (not out loud, of course), "God, you sent the guy to the wrong restaurant. What's up with that?" I knew it wasn't God's mistake or the customer's mistake and proceeded to patiently wait for my huge tip. No one ever did give me that huge tip.
Sometimes we ask God for something and we expect God to answer our prayers a certain way. Did God ignore my prayer because a customer didn't leave a big tip? No way! God answers prayers the way He sees fit to answer prayers. That way, He can't be put into a box or figured out with a formula.
My mother sent a huge box of presents for my son. She didn't know what I wanted to get for him; all she knew was that I was broke and she was moved with compassion for my son. She didn't want him to be disappointed on Christmas morning just as much as I didn't.
My son opened this HUGE box on Christmas morning and inside were a bunch of presents all individually wrapped. I had no idea what my mother had sent. To my amazement, as my son opened them one by one, he received an electric racecar set, a dartboard, and a battery-operated remote- controlled car, as well as many more presents. The love of the Lord overwhelmed me to see that He really did answer my prayer to the tiniest detail of each toy.
What a tremendous lesson for me to learn that God does things His way, not our way. God's way is better. Isn't this a cool testimony of God's goodness?! I think so!
The second time God provided for Christmas is a shorter story. In 1992, after struggling while unemployed, then working three jobs, which barely paid the bills, I found myself broke at Christmas again. After seeing what God had done for Christmas the year before, I didnít try to figure out what He would do this year. I prayed, "Lord, You know that I am broke this year and it is in my heart to purchase a Nintendo for my son for Christmas. Please provide." Then I proceeded to wait patiently.
I was on my way to a church service the night before Christmas Eve, thinking and wondering about what would happen for Christmas. It seemed like my prayer still hadn't been answered, but I didn't worry. After the praise and worship time of the service, an offering would be taken while the praise team performed a song. During this time, I was sitting next to a friend, catching up on the events of the week. My pastor got up from his seat and was heading our way. Fear came over me! I was sure that he was going to rebuke us for talking through the song the worship team was performing. When he arrived where we were sitting, he held out his hand for me to take something from it. It was a $100 bill! He said that every year, the elders and he pray together to ask the Lord whom they are to bless for Christmas. This year the Lord asked them to bless me.
I chuckled to myself at the goodness of God. I said to the Lord, "Lord, You crack me up! Last year, I expected You to provide money from someone, but You provided the presents instead. This year, I didn't know what to expect and You provided the money I expected last year. You must enjoy keeping me on my toes."
God's not late, but sometimes He waits until the last minute. I had one shopping day left to run to the store to get my son his Nintendo game. We spent the whole Christmas day together playing Nintendo. My son beat me every time!
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