Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared some Christmas stories that I’ve written over the years. I hope you’ll enjoy today’s. Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and savor a story about a little boy who discovered God’s greatest gift.
Jacob’s Best Christmas Ever
Jacob stood shivering behind his mother as she rang the bell for the Salvation Army Christmas kettle. Cling, cling, rattled the coins as busy men and women tossed their loose change in the big black pot.
“You must stay close by,” his mother chided. “No running around on the busy sidewalk.”
Jacob nestled against the back of his mother’s legs and warmed himself with her loosely fitting coat as if it were his shawl. His too small coat and worn thin tennis shoes served as poor barriers against the December chill.
After a while, Jacob began to grow curious at the brightly decorated storefronts lining the bustling street. His mother didn’t even notice when he wandered away to peek in the window behind her post.
The storefront housed mechanical elves slowly hammering away on various oversized toy trucks, cars, and train sets. In one corner sat a round jolly old woman dressed in red, appearing to sew lace on a dolly’s dress. Mesmerized, he moved to the next window and saw a laughing man with a white beard dressed in a red suit riding in a sleigh full of packages.
The next window housed a crèche much like the one he had seen in front of the church near his apartment. There were Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus surrounded by three Kings, two shepherds and a camel crowded in the back.
The next window was filled with mannequins dressed in sequined party dresses and fancy black tuxedos. The next window was landscaped with artificial snow and a snowman family. The daddy snowman donned a splendid top hat, the mommy snowman had a floppy red hat and matching gloves, and the “children” wore matching scarves and earmuffs.
On and on Jacob explored with wide-eyed wonder the sights of the season in storefront after storefront. When he finally thought to turn around and wave to his mother, she was nowhere in sight. Jacob had wandered many blocks away and his curiosity had taken him through a maze of twists and turns. He had no idea where he was or how to get back to her.
With tears in his eyes, Jacob plopped down on a bench in front of Edwards’s department store and hoped that his mother would come to find him soon.
Meanwhile, Clara Jones sat by the fire in her small brick bungalow, sipping a cup of afternoon tea. Suddenly, she felt compelled to go uptown and do a little shopping.
“Lord,” she prayed, “You know I’ve done all my shopping this year, but I sense you nudging me to go uptown. I don’t know why you’re telling me to move,” she chuckled, “but as usual, I guess you’ll let me know when I get there.”
She put on her heavy red coat, slipped on warm fur lined boots, and wrapped a bright Christmas green scarf around her neck. She slowly made her way through the heavy holiday traffic.
As soon as she got out of her car, she saw her divine appointment waiting on a bench in front of Edwards’s department store. Before she crossed the street, God spoke to her heart, Look at the boy with the eyes of your heart.
He wore a threadbare coat that was missing most of its buttons and had too small sleeves that came down just below his elbows. On his right foot, a white sock peeked out of a hole in the toe of his well-worn tennis shoe, and his hands were stuffed deep in his pockets. Unruly brown hair framed his chapped cheeks, and frightened eyes darted to the left and right as if searching for something.
Then God whispered again, You have a chance to give this little boy the best Christmas present ever.
After what seemed like hours of waiting, Jacob saw an older woman with kind eyes and rosy cheeks approaching him. He recognized her as Mrs. Jones, who often helped out at the Salvation Army clothing store.
“Hi Jacob,” she said with a warm smile. Do you remember me?”
Jacob nodded his head silently, afraid if he spoke his tears might give way.
“Son, are you lost?” Mrs. Jones asked as she stooped down to look in his eyes.
“I don’t know, ma’am,” Jacob replied with a quiver in his voice. “I was with my mom. She is ringing a bell where people throw pennies and nickels in a big black kettle to help poor people, but I guess I walked too far away. And now I don’t know my way back.”
He was trying to be as brave as a 6-year-old boy could be, but the quiver in his small voice revealed the truth.
“I’ll tell you what,” Mrs. Jones said, “see that policeman over there. Let’s tell him that you are lost and describe to him what your mother looks like in case she comes by looking for you. Then you can come in the store with me while I shop and stay warm.”
“OK Mrs. Jones. That sounds like a great idea.”
The twosome told the policeman about Jacob’s mom, and he promised to be on the lookout.
In the store, Mrs. Jones led Jacob to the children’s coat section.
“Which one of these coats do you think a little boy about 6-years-old would like?” she asked.
“Oh, I think a little boy about 6-years-old would like this one!” he exclaimed. Jacob pointed to a corduroy pea coat with big brown leather buttons and a hood lined with something that reminded him of a stuffed toy lamb he had seen in one of the storefront windows.
“I think that is a splendid choice,” Mrs. Jones replied. “That coat is just the one I’d like to buy for you!”
Jacob was surprised! He had never had a new coat before, much less one so handsome and warm. He hugged Mrs. Jones with delight, slipped on the new coat, and stuffed his old one in a bag.
Then Mrs. Jones took Jacob to the shoe department and purchased a pair of black shiny new boots with plenty of toe room. Just beside the shoe department, they picked out a new scarf, woolen gloves and cap.
With her shopping complete, Mrs. Smith and Jacob went to check with the policeman.
“No sign of her yet,” the man said.
“I have another idea,” Mrs. Jones said, “Let’s sit here by the café window so we can spot her if she walks by.
The older woman ordered two cups of hot chocolate and drank in the smiles and chatter of little Jacob.
Finally, Jacob looked up at Mrs. Jones, cocked his head and asked, “Lady, are you God?”
“No,” she said with a chuckle. “I’m just one of His children.”
“Well, I knew you had to be some relation,” he said, assured of his estimation.
“Jacob, would you like to be one of God’s children too?”
“Oh, yes,” he quickly replied. “But how do I do that?”
Over the next 15 minutes, Mrs. Jones told Jacob the Christmas story as he had never heard it before. She started with the baby in the manger who was born that starry night in Bethlehem so long ago. She told him that the little baby was God’s Son and God had sent Him at Christmas time as the very first Christmas present. He was a present for all who would accept Him as their Savior and Lord.
She told him about the wise men that came from the East, the shepherds who saw the angels, and the angels who proclaimed Jesus’ birth. Then she told him that the baby grew up to be a man who did many wonderful things, healed the sick, and fed the poor.
“But some people didn’t believe Jesus was God’s Son and they killed Him by nailing him on a cross.”
“Why did God let them kill His Son?” Jacob asked with confusion and hurt in his eyes.
“Well, Jacob, it was all in God’s plan. Jesus didn’t even fight when the soldiers came to take him away. He gave His life freely as a gift for you and for me. But the good news is–Jesus didn’t stay dead! They buried Him in a tomb, but three days later, God raised Him from the dead. He was alive again, and He is still living today.”
“Really?” Jacob said in wide-eyed wonder. “Where does He live?”
Mrs. Jones pointed to her heart. “He lives in here.” Then pointing to Jacob’s heart she said, “And He can live in there too,”
“Jacob, do you know what sin is?” Mrs. Jones asked.
“I think it is when you do something wrong. I always hear my grandmother saying, ‘Your sins will find you out.’ But I’m not sure what that means.”
Mrs. Jones chuckled thinking of her own country grandmother saying those same daunting words to her as a child.
“Jacob, all of us are sinners. We don’t become sinners the first time we do something wrong. We are born sinners. It just means that we aren’t perfect. We make mistakes all the time. Jesus came to take the punishment for our mistakes. When we accept Him as our Savior, when we say that we believe Jesus is God’s Son and we believe that God raised Him from the dead, God adopts us into His family and we become one of His children.”
“I’d like to do that,” Jacob said. “I want to be His child like you are. Do you think He would want me?”
“Oh yes,” she said with a smile. “God sent me here today just for you. He knew you were lost.”
The older lady and one special little boy bowed their heads. Mrs. Jones led Jacob through a prayer to accept his best Christmas present ever. Just as they said “Amen,” Jacob looked up and spotted his frantic mother talking to the policeman.
He burst through the glass doors and hugged her around the waist.
“Jacob, Jacob, where have you been” she sobbed.
“I was lost, but now I’m found,” he said.
Mrs. Jones walked up and extended her hand to the weary mother.
“This is Mrs. Jones,” Jacob said. “She’s been taking care of me until you came. And look, she bought me a new coat, these shiny boots, these gloves and a hat!”
“You’re an angel,” the thankful mother cried clinging to her small son.
“No, she’s not an angel, mom” Jacob said. “She’s just one of God’s children, and you can be one too.”
For the next two hours, one older woman and one little boy told a young mother about the baby born in Bethlehem who was the Savior of the World. The angels rejoiced that evening as the adoption papers were complete on two more of God’s children. Yes, it was Jacob’s best Christmas ever.
(I hope you enjoyed the story. Tell me, when did you accept God’s greatest gift …Jesus?)