Christmas in July

Her eyes were riveted to the clock as she waited, timecard in hand, to end her shift. She would escape the torment of this dysfunctional torture chamber called work and roam the mall free for a hour or so of shopping before she had to pick up her duties as wife and mother. She punched the time clock at the exact moment that it read 2:00 and headed out the door. "Don't forget tomorrow we need you here early." Satan orchestrated the timing of the bosses' parting shot, only accentuating Meg's state of desperation.

"Who am I fooling?" she asked herself as she shook her head. This shopping time offered only a few moments reprieve from the grind. "I am just burned out," she sighed. She would have quit in a moment, but then, where would the money come from for the girls to stay in private school? Where would she find another job that paid like this one?"

To be honest, the issues did not end with the job. She had not pictured herself like this as she hit midlife. Out of time and energy, health issues, patience stretched to the max. Having to deal with work issues and juggle family. Though the sun shown bright on that July day, storm clouds gathered over her heart. "The way they treat me I should be scouring the want ads," she told herself, pulling up to the large department store at the end of the mall.

She checked her makeup in the mirror and blotted her remaining tears with a tissue. "But then, what sort of job will I find as a middle-aged woman who wants Sabbath off for God, and Sunday off for family, and prefers to be off by 3:00 to beat the kids home?"

As she entered the store, a huge red and white sign taped on the outside of the store window read, "Christmas in July Sale." Meg thought to herself. "Oh, if only it were Christmas with time off from work, and the joy of being with family. The spirit of cheer and goodwill that radiates from everyone's heart would go a long ways in my struggle. At Christmas God seems so near. "If only it were Christmas…," she wished in a whisper.

The sale turned out to be disappointing, and she went home with her heart even heavier than before. Sitting in her chair she instinctively picked up the Message Bible that lay where she had left it on the stand from morning worship. She let it fall open on her lap and began to read the words from Isaiah 8:9-10 that said, "But face the facts, all you oppressors…" The Spirit impressed her that the words applied to her and her oppressors. God addressed the battle that Satan had marshaled against His daughter.

She started reading again. "But face the facts, all you oppressors and then wring your hands, listen all you far and near. Prepare for the worst and wring your hands…Plan and plot all you want—nothing will come of it. All your talk is mere talk, empty words. Because when all is said and done the last word is Immanuel—God with us."

When all is said and done the last word is Immanuel. God is with me…I am not alone in my struggle. God is with me…whom shall I fear? God is with me…I have resources of strength as I rely on Him. God is with me…as I walk into the workplace I carry my own atmosphere. Immanuel came not just as a gift to the world; He also laid Himself down as a gift to me. A tear fell down her face, but this time in joy as she bowed her head in prayer saying, "Thank you, God, for Christmas in July.

September 01, 2007 / Perspective