(December 12, 2021) Maureen McQuillan reflects…
Trust you’re looking forward to Christmas Day as much as we are. Once again our family will be with us, especially our great-granddaughter Avaleigh Grace for her first Christmas.
And, of course, our precious daughter, Wendy, who was born on Christmas Day… Wendy who when younger always reminded me, ‘Two pressies, Mummy; Christmas and my birthday. Not together, Mummy, but given separately.’
The real Christmas present
This is the one discovered in the Bethlehem manger by those shepherds who’d been so scared by the angelic visitation…
‘An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests”’ (Luke 2:9-14).
Bewildered but eager to find this baby who would become the Saviour of everyone who would accept him, they – even without gifts – ‘… hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger’ (verse16). Then they became the first bearers of the good news, the first ‘missionaries’ if you like.
Verse 17-18 says, ‘… they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.’ And verse 20 adds, ‘The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.’ Later the searching magi with their expensive gifts would also find the Christ child.
Christmas is indeed a time of gift-giving in love, but we must always remember that the greatest gift was given by our loving God! The incarnation of a babe who would become our Saviour! We should especially celebrate his birth with joy on Christmas Day!
My special Christmas present
Let me share personally with you about another Christmas Day… and about Wendy above.
Although she grew up and became a mum herself with her own precious daughter (Bonnie-Jane, mother of Avaleigh above), her birthday is still always special to Robert and me for many reasons… one particularly special one.
I must confess that Robert and I were ever so young back when we married in the early sixties! And a little naïve about a lot of things – we had yet to fully discover the wisdom and leading of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of his power.
Come the second year of marriage I was expecting our first child and so sick every morning. I had to travel into the city to my workplace daily and, sadly, no man would kindly offer me a seat on the crowded bus and I had to fight against being sick over someone. I wasn’t a happy very young mum-to-be!
My doctor’s recommendation was ‘these popular tablets, regarded as the answer to morning sickness.’ I had never heard of them… but innocent, trusting little me accepted his script for this ‘miracle drug.’
What was this ‘miracle tablet’? Thalidomide!
Later the world, not just me, would learn about the dangers of this drug to pregnant mothers-to-be and the children in their wombs. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, more than 10,000 children in 46 countries were born with deformities as a consequence of thalidomide use, according to the FDA.
Here’s where my miracle comes in… Miracle? I can only call it that! The next morning as I stood at the kitchen sink of our rented apartment to get a glass of water, I opened the small bottle. Suddenly it seemed that every pill was jumping up out of the bottle – that’s the only way I can describe what happened before my eyes that morning(!), I kid you not. Every tablet vanished down the old-fashioned large sink hole!
If those shepherds were stunned, image how I felt! I stood there for a few moments pondering what had happened. Back then I didn’t know the Holy Spirit as deeply and intimately as I was later to discover… but I felt in my heart that this was God – our loving, caring Father – shielding me from something that I knew not the dangerous of.
So I didn’t get a replacement script but decided to continue suffering the morning sickness. I told an astounded Robert and we just prayed for inner peace, wisdom and God’s strength to look after me.
Come Christmas morning that year, as the first snow stared falling outside, what a Christmas gift we had with the help of our loving God!
Wendy, our beautiful, precious, full of good health daughter, was born perfect in every way… some doctors even commented on her healthiness and asked, ‘What have you been eating? She’s so healthy. And those eyes!’ They simply nodded when I said, ‘Grapefruit.’ And, typical of babies born on Christmas Day, Wendy and I were on local TV news!
It was much later TV news of a different kind revealed the horrors of the thalidomide drug. We thanked our loving God for his intervention in our case – not that we’re extra special. We still feel for those poor parents back then and their children… and any heartbreaking birth tragedy today!
Trusting the Christmas gift-giver
We continue to marvel at God’s amazing love, precious grace and miracle-working power as he displays his love to all who know and trust him. As with that old song we too ‘count our blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.’
That Christmas morn decades ago, Wendy was our very special blessing indeed… and she has always blessed us in so many ways: we’re proud of her and the fact that she has made her mark in life, achieving much and has touched the lives of many people with her own insight, wisdom and prayers!
A parent is always a parent – as long as we’re still around! We still count Wendy as a special blessing, still thank God for her and pray for her and her family every day (and naturally for our son, Stuart, too and his family).
May we never cease thanking God for everything… Jesus the Christmas gift, life itself, full salvation, answered prayer, good friends – and much, much more!
Need a miracle? God is the miracle-worker! Acts 19:11 confirms ‘God did extraordinary miracles through Paul’ (who trusted God).
Trust is always the key. Jesus emphasised this in John 14:1Message, ‘You trust God, don’t you?’
Paul encouraged: ‘But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it – you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked – well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift’ (Romans 4:5Message).
Trust the heavenly gift-giver!