The Night Before

This is a repost of a story I posted last year.  I have three Christmas stories, all posted before but I think I’ll post them again.  Maybe one a week between now and Christmas.

The Night Before

“I don’t care who’s fault you think it is. I’m blaming you. You should have caught it. We stand to lose three hundred thousand dollars on this job. It’s up to you to find a way out of this mess, and you better have an answer when you come back after Christmas.  Or else!”

So here I am. Two A.M. on Christmas morning. I should be sleeping. The family will be up in a few hours and I’ll have to pretend to be joyful. But I can’t sleep. I can’t even pray. All I can do is think about what I should have said, what I should have done, what I could say if I had the courage. Where did I go wrong? How did I get myself into this mess? Was it a missed opportunity years ago? Maybe I should’ve left when I saw the way things were headed.
There’s the tree with its sparkling lights. There are all the brightly wrapped packages. But it’s not Christmas. Not for me.

Now what is this? Somebody just came out of the fireplace! He’s big and fat with a red suit and a white beard and he’s dragging a sack that‘s as big as he is. How did he get that sack down the chimney? How did he get down the chimney? There’s a fire in the fireplace. How did he get through that? He’s covered with soot but his suit is not burned.
He began to dig in his sack. He looked over his shoulder and with a disinterested voice said, “What do you need?”
I said, “Have you got a couple of hundred thousand in there?”
“No. I don’t carry money around with me. It’s too dangerous.”
“How about a new job?”
“No. I don’t think so.”, he said somewhat impatiently.
He dug in his sack some more. He turned to me and said, “How about a cappuccino machine. They’re all the rage this year.”
“No. I don’t think so. That won’t help.”
“Here’s a stereo system. CD player.  Satellite radio.  iPod dock.  Surround sound.”
“No.”
He disappeared into his sack. “I think I’ve got a big screen TV somewhere down here in the bottom.”
“No thanks.”
“Well, suit yourself.”
Then he was gone.

Now what? The TV just came on all by itself. Preacher Tom is on and he acts like he’s mad.
“‘God is not mocked. Whatsoever you sow that shall you also reap.’ You made the choices. Now you’re suffering the consequences. Pride, greed, lack of wisdom, and disobedience always result in suffering and that’s what you‘re facing now. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. You always have to pay the price for sin, for the bad choices you make. And that’s what you’re facing now. All I can say is it’s too bad. It’s just too bad.”
“But what about you? Haven’t you ever made any bad choices? Haven’t you ever made any mistakes?”
“No, never.” But he would not look me in the eye when he said it.

Then he was gone and he was replaced by Reverend Bill. He acted mad, too.
“Just believe and it will come to pass. Confess it and it will happen. Speak the word to Satan and he will have to leave you alone. Your problem is your bad confession. Make the good confession and it will come to pass. It might not hurt to plant a faith seed, too.”
“What about you? Does this work for you? Has it always worked for you?” (I can’t believe I’m talking to the TV set.)
“Well, there was a time that I was flat broke. I thought I was going to have to declare bankruptcy. But then I got on TV and, praise God, the money just started pouring in.”

Then he was gone. Now standing before me was a man. He wore a simple garment of rough fabric. He was neither short nor tall, neither exceptionally handsome nor exceptionally ugly. He was totally average and unremarkable except for the compassion that shone in His eyes.
He came over and sat on the couch beside me. He laid a gentle hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes.
He said, “I understand.” And I knew He did.
He said. “I will always be here.” And I knew He would be.

“Honey, wake up. Did you fall asleep on the couch?”
My wife was shaking me. I was surrounded by my family. The children were wading through the packages. My son was thrusting a gift into my hands. It was Christmas morning. And somehow the lights on the tree seemed brighter and the ornaments seemed more cheerful.
My wife saw the tears shining in my eyes and said, “Are you crying? Is everything all right?”
I put my arm around her and said, “It’s Christmas”

Post Script:
It strikes me that someone reading this might think I have a problem with preachers. I don’t.  Yes, there are some preachers who preach judgment without compassion and there are some preachers who preach faith without understanding, but most are compassionate and understanding. We all need to be challenged and encouraged by the truths in the Bible and we all need the strength and support of Christian fellowship. But ultimately, when we are really in a tight spot, the only thing that helps is that still, small voice that says, ‘I understand and I’ll always be here.’

© 2012 by Angus B. Lewis
All rights reserved.

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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4 Responses to The Night Before

  1. Great last line in the postscript. Astute observation.
    (and nice post, too – good idea to re-post!)

  2. Angus Lewis says:

    Thank you. I had forgotten about the commentary I added at the end. I don’t know what it says when you think you have to comment on your own writing.

  3. Neeks says:

    This took my breath away. Words just cannot say.

    • Angus Lewis says:

      Thank you. I wrote that years ago. I was probably going through something like that at the time. Not that I had lost a bunch of money. Just some mistake I had made that seemed big at the time.
      As I write that I find myself thankful that God has brought me through the mistakes and failures but more important my fears about mistakes and failures.

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