The Little Match Girl and Me
by Amy Yoder
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen has always been one of my favorite stories. Perhaps you're familiar with the tale?
Published in 1848, it’s about a little girl whose father sends her out in the dead of winter, with neither shoes nor hat, to sell match sticks to the busy people she meets on the cold cobblestone streets. It is New Year’s Eve, and everyone is too busy to notice the half-frozen and starving little girl. Darkness falls and the child sits shivering in an alley between two buildings. She is too afraid to go home, for her father will surely beat her when he learns she has not sold her matches.
As the snow falls around her, the little girl decides to light a match for warmth. Each match brings her a beautiful vision. She first sees a roaring fire in a cozy potbellied stove. In the flame of the second match, she sees a table laden with food. Soon she holds the last matchstick, and her grandmother – the only person who ever truly loved her – comes to take her to heaven. She is found the next morning, frozen to death, a pile of burnt matchsticks left on the ground beside her.
This evening, a friend reminded me that I am a child of God, a princess whom he wishes to bless with every good thing due a child of the Most High King. Later, as I prayed, a vivid picture of this story came to mind. I realized that I have been seeing myself much like the little girl in Andersen’s famous fairy tale.
Even within my own Christian family, I have envisioned myself as that little girl cast out in the cold. My divorce, more than two years ago, triggered such horrible loneliness and a sense of being on the outside, looking in. Since a car accident confined me to my home, that loneliness has intensified to a level that seems almost unbearable at times. I’ve been looking at the years that stretch out ahead of me, and envisioning nothing but abandonment and a bitter cold despair.
But in answer to my prayer tonight, God graciously gave me a new version of the story, and ultimately a new vision of my life. I saw myself as that little girl, huddled in an alley burning matches, when a man who positively radiated warmth and light stepped into that dark space. He reached down and, with a shake of his head, lifted me right up and tucked me inside his heavy coat.
“Here you are!” he exclaimed. “That’s enough of this play acting. You’re not a poor little match girl. You’re my precious daughter and you should be sitting at home, in front of my fire, with all your brothers and sisters.”
And so my Daddy carried me home. Tucked inside his coat, I was perfectly warm and content. I realized, too, that I’d only gotten turned around a bit, because I’d been huddling just outside of my own house. Sure enough, the fire was blazing and my siblings greeted me joyfully as Daddy carried me right to my special place by the fire.
Finally, I noticed the most amazing thing. There were more sisters and brothers than I could count – an absolute sea of smiling faces greeted me – but each one of us had a place right by the fire! No one was alone or unhappy, and our Father—beaming perfect light and comforting warmth—had the time and overflowing love for each one of us.
Tonight, I thank God for a new vision of myself and my place in His home. I’m not a beggar, expecting only table scraps and momentary warmth from a few match sticks. I’m a child of the King!
John 6: 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.