'The JOY of Christmas Year 'Round'
by Travis Wiginton
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Christmas of 1936, I was 8 years of age....my older brother Bryce was 12, Edsel was 4 and Keith was l year old.
We lived in a two-room house with a very small kitchen. We may have 'looked poor' to some, but we weren't....because of the love, joy and peace in that house, which made it a GREAT home!
When we were seeking appointment as missionaries to Korea, we had to pass several medical exams and one of those was a Psychiatric test. The Dr. questioned me about my description of my growing up years in our home, as I kept referring to them as
He found it hard to believe that anyone could have such a great home life, but as he learned, it was exactly as I had described it!
In 1936 (which was the driest year on record), we only made 3 bales of cotton that year on our farm. We had a small dairy, so we were able to get by.
(I guess we were what you might call 'poor', but we 4 boys didn't know it.)
When Christmas came, we knew that we would not get much, but Mom and Dad made sure that we had oranges, apples, some nuts and candy.
This was unusual for we normally were only able to have candy whenever Dad paid our grocery bill with our milk check at the end of the month.
(It was the grocer's custom to give us a sack of candy whenever Dad paid our grocery bill each month.)
Our presents were only one gift for each child, but they were well 'thought out' and given with much love!
The first present I remember receiving as a small child, was a stick-horse with a mane and reins. (You could ride that horse all day and never get tired!) (:o)
We fixed 4 cane-bottom chairs in the middle of our living room......with our individual names on each chair.
Mom would give each of us 4 boys one of her silk stockings and we would hang them on the back of our chairs.
(Boy! That stocking could sure hold a lot of fruit, candy, nuts and other goodies!!)
On Christmas morning, the living room 'lit up' with gifts and lights that Mom and Dad had worked late into the night to prepare. I remember when I was 12 yrs. old, I received a used bicycle as a gift....'used'....but it glittered like gold!
Then another Christmas, I received a Bulova wrist watch with a blue crystal. Prettiest thing I had ever seen! These memories linger to this day, though my parents are now in Heaven. (Dad died in 1968 and Mom in 1990).
Christmas was a time of JOY, but I'm so thankful that we had some JOY all year long!
This JOY came from loving parents, a great school, a good church and a town called Altus.
We enJOYed many a Saturday afternoon in that county-seat town, talking and visiting around the courthouse square where my maternal Grandfather, Henry Savage, served as the town's Sheriff.
I was ordained to preach at my country church, Friendship Baptist Church near Altus, in 1956.....and one of the men who served on that ordaining committee was my Granddad Savage!
(Just a note of interest: Our eldest grandson, Jeremiah Savage Wiginton, turned 18 this week. Jeremiah's Dad is our son Kevin, who has been in Law Enforcement for 28 yrs. and since he has followed in the footsteps of GrandDad Savage, he wanted his son to have part of Papa Savage's name.)
I played baseball, basketball and had great friends at the Friendship School, which burned down while we were serving as missionaries in Korea. When we returned, I walked through the ashes of each room and the gym, thanking God for 12 great years there.
To this day, I remember every teacher I had and the good lasting impressions they made on me!
Teachers who were additions....not subtractions...to my spiritual growth!
My life added up to JOY!
The greatest addition to my JOY, was at age 11 when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
Our home and our church were fertile places where the seed of the gospel was sown and cultivated, to bear fruit.
This it did.....for I was taught by a good Sunday School teacher and the gospel was lived before me by my parents, my grandparents, an older brother as well as many other family and friends!
My spiritual problem was that I thought all that was necessary to be a Christian, was to be a 'good boy' and go to church.
John Sullivan (who at that time, looked 'ancient' to me with his bald head), taught my Sunday School class and I began to see my need of a spiritual experience that he called 'Salvation'.
During a revival at our church, I delayed my decision as long as I could....last night, last invitation song. (Why do we wait about making important spiritual decisions?)
The song leader asked, "Does anyone need prayer in order to make a decision?"
I held my hand up and he prayed. I went forward during the invitation and invited Jesus to come into my heart and life.
I've always had the assurance that Jesus came in, never to leave!
Some may have doubts, but I have never doubted my salvation experience!
Jesus and the Holy Spirit keep their word, according to The Word! (Rom. 8:14-16)
Let's talk about JOY for the rest of this paper.
Today, many seek to find JOY in new things.....
May we never forget the old, old story of that first Christmas!
We went to Korea in Sept. of 1960 with 5 and 3 yr. old sons. They saw a country that had been destroyed by war and people who had lost everything! Craig and Kevin saw the JOY of orphan children when we shared clothes and toys. One home that we visited, cared for over 20 orphans in 2 rooms and were always thrilled to see us coming.
When you have nothing, ANYthing is appreciated and brings JOY!
(I wish that people could see that about Jesus....that you really have nothing, if you do not have Him!)
Many hymns speak to this:
'Jesus is all the world to me,
My life, my JOY, my all.
He is my strength from day to day,
Without Him, I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go,
No other one can cheer me so.
When I am sad, He makes me glad.
He's my Friend!'
'JOY to the world....the Lord is come....
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room.
And Heaven and Nature sing...."
The question is....'Have you any room for Jesus'? (see website paper: Nov. 26, 2004)
EnJOY as you read about JOY...(JOY is one of the biggest little words in the Bible)
1) JOY is the flag that is flown from the castle of your heart when the King is in residence.
2) A professing Christian with a sour spirit and a long face, is a contradiction and works negatively and not positively for the cause of Christ.
If you are a Christian, SMILE! You may not see your face that day....but others will.
"Smile and the world smiles with you.....frown and you frown alone!"
3) Jesus spoke of JOY as a 'gift' from Himself.
John 15:11: "These things I have spoken unto you, that my JOY might remain in you and that your JOY might be full." (See also I John 1:4)
John 16:22: "Your heart shall rejoice and your JOY no one takes from you!"
4) The Old Testament speaks of JOY:
Nehemiah 8:16: "The JOY of the Lord is my strength."
David wrote in Psalms 16:11: "In thy presence is fulness of JOY"
and in Psalms 51:12: "Restore unto me, the JOY of thy salvation."
5) Other Scriptures on JOY:
Luke 15:7: "JOY in Heaven over one sinner who repents."
James 1:2: "Count it all JOY."
I Peter 4:13: "Rejoice and be glad with exceeding JOY."
Paul speaks many times about JOY in the Holy Spirit.
Luke 2:8-11: "The angels' message on that Christmas was:
'Fear not for I bring you tidings of great JOY."
This is the same message they gave to Mary....and it is the same message to us today!
It is a strange distortion of Christianity that often presents Jesus as 'joyless' and only as Isaiah 53:3 says:"A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief".
Jesus WAS a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief...and CAN (and will) identify with us in our sorrows and our grief. However, His main theme was outward JOY, from peace in the heart.
As Paul wrote in II Cor. 5:17:
"If anyone be in Christ, old things are passing away and all things are becoming new."
T. R. Torkelson wrote in 1976:
"JOY was an integral part of Jesus' life and it becomes, by the Divine Miracle of Transference, an intergal part of the life of anyone who accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord....and are indwelt by Him."
When we went to Korea for a 5 yr. term, we took clothes and supplies with us, as there was not much available there after the war. A neighbor boy, Jayeel, came often to play with our sons. When he stopped coming over, we asked his mother 'why' and she replied, "Your sons have nice toys and Jayeel wonders why he can not have them also.
I told him that I could not afford them."
When we told our sons about this, they went to get the new trucks that they had just received as gifts from their Grandparents in America.
We were surprised when Craig and Kevin came in, each carrying his NEW (and BEST) toy to give to Jayeel. After that, Jayeel began coming to our home again, to play with Craig and Kevin.
AREN'T WE THANKFUL THAT GOD GAVE HIS VERY BEST FOR US?!
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I'm also blessed by your story that added JOY in my heart. Merry Christmas to you and ato all who may read your message of JOY.
What a beautiful article Travis. No indeed, you were NOT poor, you were very rich in the true wealth. There are many I am sure who came from affluent homes who would have traded places with you. For where God is, love abounds, and that is the greatest wealth of all. Merry, Merry Christmas to you and La Moyne, and may His joy keep pouring forth from your hearts unto us.blessings be poured on you in abundance. In His love, Sharon