A group of soldiers delivered Christmas presents to the children of Jacob’s House Orphanage in South Korea this past weekend. I tagged along, spending hours snuggling with the infants and playing with the toddlers. One of the little boys took to my camera immediately. I turned it off so that he could press every button his little heart desired. And then, when I turned it back on and let him snap pictures, he giggled with pure excitement. I still remember his face. My heart yearns for his continued happiness.
But for so many of the other children I visited, joy had escaped them. In their eyes I saw confusion. It was as though a sense of loss was all about them, but at such a young age, could not conceive of who or what was missing. On their face was written question after question, but had no idea what or how to ask. For some, it was if they just existed, their life confined to the walls around them and the playground just outside, but without the realization that anything else was beyond what their eyes could see, had no idea that this life was either good or bad. It just was.
Playing with these children – those whose internal joy seemed faded – brought only temporary happiness. The smile wasn’t as wide and the glimmer in their eyes wasn’t near as bright. I could tell that they yearned for something more…a joy that lasts…that never fades…even if they could not yet comprehend this for themselves.
Christmas presents are wonderful – it was my honor to bring them to these orphans who otherwise may not have received any presents at all – but the joy they bring lasts only as long as the toy itself. Inner peace, contentment and confidence can only be achieved when you place your faith and trust in our one and only Lord and Savior.
Jesus’ story has existed for all time, but from a human perspective, begins in a manger some 2,000 years ago. We celebrate this day, Christmas, by decorating our home in lights and a beautiful evergreen tree, singing carols and giving and receiving gifts. As fun as these holiday traditions are, their cheery and festive effects are only temporary.
Jesus came down from His throne in Heaven and humbled Himself by being born as a human baby. He spent His life teaching the world about God and how to live according to His will. He mentored disciples, preformed miracles, consoled the repentant and damned the arrogant. He remained perfect in all that He said and did. After only 33 years on this earth, He died for you and for me in a bloody, abusive and humiliating way. And now, because of His death, neither you nor I have to suffer the same end.
I was an orphan too. I had no idea who to trust, what to believe in or where to turn to. My joys were temporary, like Christmas gifts: they came and went with the seasons. And then one day, in the pits of despair, I let Jesus in. I let down my stubborn brick wall and allowed the Truth to soak in, fill my being and wash over me like a warm, comforting bath after a long, cold and brutal day. Since that day, I’ve never again doubted who my Father is, to what family I belong, or where true happiness comes from. That gladness never fades, never dulls, never recedes. Even in the worst of days, I can always find comfort, peace and safety in the arms of my Father: I know that He is watching and in control.
Christmas is a beautiful, joyous day. It’s the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the One who came down from Heaven to save us because we could not save ourselves. He came to help, to spread true and lasting joy, to gather you into His family. Decide this day to abandon your orphanage and claim your inheritance into Christ’s family. He has already paid the price of admission. All you have to do is accept it!