The snow seemed to blast through the tiny three-bedroom trailer that my wife, Sylvia, and I would be cooped up in for the rest of the winter. Though it wasn’t much, Sylvia’s mother had graciously extended an invitation for us to come and live with her after I lost my job. Even though my wife was merely four months along with our first child, it was quite plain to see that we were going to have a baby.
We had both been students at a Christian college in Lincoln, Nebraska. At ages 21 and 20 we decided to get married. Unfortunately, neither of us was finished with school, which put us in quite a financial bind.
One case of hard luck after another had put the both of us into a huge hole of debt. My wife had even decided to drop out of school and work full time so that I could graduate. But the combination of both my school and work schedules had taken quite a toll on my sleep, not to mention my scholastic aptitude. I was taking a sixteen hour load during the day and working from 6:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. in the morning. After that I would drive the thirty miles home and start the whole thing all over again. Many were the times that I found myself going to sleep at the wheel on the way home. Fortunately, I always awoke.
Shortly after we found out that Sylvia was pregnant she began having trouble with her pregnancy and so she had to quit working. A short time after that I lost my job. That was when we decided that maybe we should move to northern Michigan. At least we’d have a place to stay and hopefully I could find a job there. Two weeks after we arrived, Sylvia’s mother lost her job too, and so both she and I were frantically searching for something to bring in income. But we just couldn’t seem to find anyone hiring.
Then one evening my wife and her family had gone to town to buy groceries, so I had plenty of time to myself, plenty of time to become depressed and discouraged. “How had I ever gotten us into this mess?” I asked myself. I even pondered where God was at in a time like this.
I was so devastated with gloom and doom that I hadn’t really been paying attention to a strange sound that interrupted the noise of the wind whistling through the pines outside. Then suddenly my ears began to detect something echoing out through that cold wintry evening. My mind wouldn’t dare let me believe it, but there it was again. It sounded like voices singing in harmony with December’s arctic air while it blasted through the woods outside. I shook my head as if in disbelief, but the angelic voices continued in my direction and they seemed to be getting more and more intense as they came.
“Surely I must be dreaming,” I thought to myself. But the Heavenly choir continued through the snow heading in my direction. “What would one say to an angel,” I wondered. “What would I say to this large host of angels coming closer and closer to the tiny trailer in the woods? Finally, I’d had enough suspense. I had to look out. Slowly, I peeked carefully out the curtain at the angels making their way right now towards the front door.
“Oh no!” I muttered in disgust. “Church people, that’s all I need.
A large group of carolers stepped up to the trailer and after singing another hymn one of them knocked on the door.
All I didn’t need right then were a bunch of church people disturbing my misery.
I really didn’t want to be bothered by anyone trying to spread their Christmas cheer. I thought briefly about pretending not to be home. However, I figured I’d already been spotted through the windows. I decided to answer the door.
As I listened to the carolers singing the final words of the song ‘Silent Night’, I was quite moved. They then mentioned they were collecting money for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Like I had some money,” I thought to myself.
I didn’t even have so much as a single coin in my pocket, so I was sure they would soon leave me alone.
So when the group spokesperson asked if I would like to contribute, I explained that I had no money and that I actually didn’t even have a job right then. I fully expected her and the rest of the group to merely say, “Oh, thanks anyway. And have a nice day.”
But instead, I was totally caught off guard by the response of this lady and her group of carolers. Instead of making a hasty retreat from someone who didn’t so much as have a dime to his name, instead, she asked, “Would you mind if we pray for you?”
Without giving me time to think about her offer, she and her group had bowed their heads and were praying out in the frosty air as snow dumped down upon them.
Now I’d heard people in times past utter a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that seemed to be more on the order of sermonizing than anything else. But this woman didn’t do that; this woman knew how to pray. By the time she finished praying I wished I had at least a couple bucks to donate. The group then quickly hopped into their vans and drove off into winter’s wonderland.
Looking back now, I could have kissed them all. Here I was: my wife was expecting, I didn’t have a job, and we had to stay with my mother-in-law and my wife’s two younger siblings in a tiny trailer. I felt so discouraged.
Yet because of a visit from these carolers I suddenly felt cared for. I felt that God was watching over me.
A week passed, and I mostly forgot about the carolers. Then one day a few of these same people stopped by with a large Christmas box full of canned goods. They escaped before I was able to mumble more than a few words of thanks. Somehow they had known our food situation or, should I say, our lack of it. And later that week their prayer for my employment was answered; I got hired at the local furniture factory.
I’ve had many opportunities since this experience in northern Michigan to be on the other side of giving. As I give I still remember the caroling angels who visited this discouraged soul on that bleak wintry night so long ago.
1254 West Cove Road
Canton, NC 28716