Ralph and I were married Dec. 29, 1973, so our first husband-and-wife Christmas was ’74. I was an unemployed, recent college grad and he was making $5,000 as assistant manager of a Christian bookstore.
We were living in a family’s basement, but wanted to have our own tree, so Ralph went searching. There weren’t many left, but he found a tree lot with a few. The smallest, cheapest one was $4.
“I only have $3,” my forlorn-looking husband told the tree-seller as he held up three crumpled bills..
The gentleman thought for a moment, then agreed to the bargain price.
We decorated it with a single strand of lights, popcorn and cranberry garlands, a few ornaments my folks sent from Germany, and others I quilled from colored strips of paper.
It’s still my favorite Christmas tree memory.
Our plans were to stay in the basement of Chuck and Pat, a local Baptist pastor and his wife, for a “a week or two” until the house we were going to rent became unoccupied. All of our furniture and meager belongings already were packed and stored in that house’s dining room.
But the rental fell through and we were pretty bummed because living in a house seemed quite preferable to residing in someone’s basement bedroom.
But of course God had a far better plan. Our “short” stay with our older and wiser friends and their two small children stretched into three months, forging a precious friendship which has endured for 49 years.
I loved learning about cooking, mothering, and serving God from my beautiful friend Pat. And I still remember the best piece of advice she gave me as we prepared to move in January 1975 to Franklinville, NY, for Ralph’s first pastoral position.
“A lot of people in the church are going to have expectations for what a pastor’s wife should do,” Pat explained. “Don’t worry about them–just listen to God and do what pleases Him.”
That advice has been my mantra as I have tried to follow Christ all theses decades. A few times I’ve heard God loud and clear, but mostly it has been His “still, small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
How about you–what are you longing to hear from our Heavenly Father? Encouragement? Direction? Comfort? Wisdom? Hope?
I love how British Anglican priest Nicky Gumbel explains five ways God speaks to us (listed from most common to least):
READING—We study the Bible, which shows God’s general will for all people at all times Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”
LISTENING–We quiet ourselves to hear the Spirit of God. The more we know God, the better we will recognize His voice while awake or sleeping! (John 10:3 )
THINKING–We trust our rational minds, not just our emotional leanings. Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Renewing of your mind, not removing!)
TALKING–We seek out the counsel of other Christians. Proverbs 12:15 explains: “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.”
WATCHING— We look for circumstantial signs–coincidences may be divine interventions! (Acts 16:6)
God still speaks to us today, my friend. May you read, listen, think, talk, and watch for His voice of truth, hope and peace.
P.S. I’m pretty sure the tree-seller on that December day in 1974 heard and responded to the voice of God …whether he ever realized it or not.
Hear Nicky’s teaching “How Does God Guide Us? from his Alpha course https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luiosjkvUlo
Open in your browser to hear “Let Me Hear Your Voice” by Francesca LaRosa