It’s busy this time of year. As we scramble to make last minute gift purchases, travel plans and menus for holiday meals, I sometimes find myself wanting this season to be over. I’m so focused on getting the long list of stuff done that I rarely stop to live in the moment and experience the wonder of the season.
Do you ever feel that way?
On a day like today, when things might feel overwhelming, I wanted to pause to share a story that can point us to Jesus. It’s a story of open hearts and faithful obedience, and a story that challenges us on how we react when God changes our plans.
Alberto lived at Salvation Army Children’s Home for three years. He arrived at the home when he was 16-years-old. He was artistic, driven and loved to skateboard, but was incredibly behind academically. To overcome his educational shortcomings, he needed one-on-one attention, encouragement and a lot of time.
Living at this children’s home offered opportunities to thrive in a way he hadn’t before. But as the home grew larger and invited in more children who needed a place to live, Salvation Army and Back2Back staff fell on their knees to pray for wisdom to provide in-depth of care for the dozens of children who lived there. Staff were feeling overwhelmed and stretched to their breaking point.
God opened up an unexpected door in Alberto’s life. This fall, a local couple invited Alberto to join their family. They knew him well, had served him at Salvation Army and felt God inviting them to say yes to His plans even more as they threw aside their own agendas and stepped into the one He was writing for them.
At 19 years old, Alberto continues to flourish. He’s planning to graduate high school in the next couple years and pursue engineering in college. When he thinks about this family who’s opened their lives and home to him, he’s full of gratitude. And because he’s so full from the love poured into him, he decided to go back to Salvation Army twice a week to tutor children there. Out of the overflow of his heart. As he’s witnessed God come through for him over and over again, he’s allowing God to use him to come through for the children there, to demonstrate what God’s done for him and speak life and encouragement into children who live in the place he called home for two and a half years.
In this season of giving, where we may feel stretched to the limit of our time, energy and resources, I challenge each of us to remember Alberto. Alberto has a God who’s faithfully met him over and over again. And out of the overflow Alberto is pouring into the children he serves. That same God is here right now pouring out his love over us.
As we feel stretched this holiday season, may we live in the overflow of our heart. When the woman at the store cuts in front of us in the check-out line, as family tensions rise in the midst of political conversations and traffic jams seem longer than usual—in those times where we’re squeezed, what comes out? If it’s not love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, maybe we need to pause, fall at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to make us more like him.
In this season of reflection, let’s see what happens when we’re squeezed. And let’s commit to bring our self-centered reactions to him and allow him to replace them with love, joy and peace. What if, like Alberto, we functioned out of the overflow of what He’s given us? What if we could live more fully in the moment? I pray this Christmas, in all of its beautiful messes, God can become more real in our lives.