In our family, we often talk about how people’s hearts seem more open to the gospel at Christmas than at any other time of year. It’s such a great opportunity to share with them the reason for the hope we have… Today’s guest in our “December to Remember” series, my sweet friend Virelle Kidder, shares just how true this is — and was for her, many years ago…
My mother had a remarkable zeal for Christmas. A single mom, she’d come home from teaching school and bake late into the night preparing for our annual Christmas open house.
Following the candlelight service, the entire congregation from our small-town church would crunch through the snow to our house. Their laughter and lingering conversations infused a sense of family into our own. Our Christmas open house was my mother’s effort to make us feel complete.
It almost worked.
Despite regular attendance in church and Sunday school, God was more like a distant relative than someone I knew. And as I grew, a gnawing sense of incompleteness also grew within me. I hungered for meaning and purpose, but had no idea where to look. Strangely, it was just before Christmas one year that I found the answer.
My husband, Steve, had settled into a new job at Johns Hopkins University when his new officemate, Keith, and his wife, Ginny, invited us to attend church. We were hesitant, finding little in common with “religious types.”
Sitting in church that Sunday, I felt miserably uncomfortable, my temples pounded. Could others around me tell I didn’t belong? Their smugness irritated me–sitting there with a Bible in their lap–why were they so sure they knew the Truth? Still, I felt jealous of their peace and happiness.
Monday morning I began tearing through the unpacked boxes in our basement, finally unearthing a mildewed Bible from my childhood. My resolve was simple: read it cover to cover. If it were the Truth, I would give God my life. If not, I’d never bother with Him again.
No one told me He could listen to my thoughts.
I opened the dusty volume to Genesis, chapter 1. Same old story! I’ve heard this a hundred times, I thought and quickly slammed it closed.
Then came a Voice, so softly. Why not read it as though you believed it? I opened it again, cautiously. Suddenly a most interesting Person was telling me about His children, those who did well and those who didn’t, those who believed and obeyed, and those who didn’t. No fluff, no sugary sentiment, no exaggeration. Weeks passed and I continued reading hungrily, every afternoon hammering Ginny with my questions on the phone.
One day, an image popped into my mind of a beautiful big house with lovely wide porches, all brightly lit at night. There was a party inside with a roaring fire in the hearth, much like the Christmas open houses from my childhood, but there was one important difference.
A Father was seated at the head of this table, His face mirrored love and warmth. Standing on the cold, dark porch peeking in, I knew in an instant this was God’s family. More than anything in the world I wanted to belong inside. But how?
I found a lifeline in the Bible verses Ginny and Keith had shared. Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) They also said eternal life is a free gift. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
At last it dawned on me. Welcoming me home cost God everything. I entered God’s family on my knees, weeping.
Take my life, Lord. Thank you for loving and forgiving me, for being a Father who will never leave.
At the Christmas Eve service in our church in Baltimore, I was asked to share how God found me and led me “Home.” Over forty years later, I’m still sharing the story of His love with anyone who will listen.
Virelle Kidder is an internationally known conference speaker and the author of six books and countless articles. Virelle and her husband, Steve, are former New Yorkers who now live in Sebastian, FL, and have four adult kids and nine fantastic grandkids. You can visit her website at www.virellekidder.com You can find her books at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and ChristianBook.com.