I remember growing up loving the holiday season every year. However, in my early teens it changed a great deal when my mum and dad separated. Christmas sadness set in. The one story that I would like to share relates to my mother’s testimony, and she has given me permission to share it in the hope that her story and mine will help others.
My mum suffered many years of oppression, abuse and hurt from many people in her life. By the time I was in my late teens my parents divorced, and she had tried to commit suicide over twenty times. Mum was in and out of mental institutions in South Australia.
On one occasion close to Christmas, my mum tried to end her life again. I remember walking into hospital late night after work and seeing her laying there after her stomach was pumped with charcoal. I went out to the car and cried out to God in prayer asking Him to help. It was one of those moments when I felt alone, hurt, and unable to help this woman that I loved very much. Life at that time, so close to Christmas, just seemed to be cloaked in darkness.
A Season for Joy
Flash forward about 5 years, and mum still suffered with depression. Once again, it was close to Christmas, and I was in the Royal Australian Navy finishing duty one night when I get this joyful phone call…this could not be the same woman I called mum for many years. However, it was her, and she assured me she was fine and happy. I asked her what was wrong and why she was so happy because this seemed so out of character for her.
Long story short, she told me how she was in hospital again after another suicide attempt, and she saw this man walk past. Strangely enough she called out to him and asked him to pray with her.
A few things changed from that day on. Not only was my mum set free, but one mere man passing the corridors of a hospital reached out and helped her when she was hopeless.
After praying for, listening to, and encouraging her, my mum was a changed woman.
She put her change of life down to two things. Firstly, that God had set her free from her dark past and helped her live again. Secondly, that this man was a doctor. Him and his wife became her pastors at church.
Christmas is all about reaching out to those who need it, and bringing a little joy and light into their life.
A Season to Sing
One of my favourite hymns that I love to play on the piano in a rather big band style is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I love to tap on those piano keys at Christmas with a playful scat like Michael Buble, and by the time the chorus echoes resounding off of the walls, I am reminded of those immortal words “Born to Raise the Sons of Earth, Born to Give Them Second Birth… Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the New Born King.”
As a man of faith, I believe in second chances and living each day with a fresh start, a slate wiped clean from the past. For me it is because of one man alone that I have a reason to sing at Christmas. This carol describes one man’s sole mission in life, He was born out of a devotion forged in love and compassion to see people raised from wreckage, and raised to new life. This man came in flesh for all to see, for a lost world that was striving in darkness, for those men wrestling with hurts, addiction, sorrow and wrongdoing, this man’s name was Jesus.
If you are a man of faith or not, I would like to just get you to pause for one moment and think personally about someone in your life. Is it a loved one? Is it a friend? How have they reached out to you and helped you?
It does not matter if you follow any faith or anything in life. But one sole thing that every man agrees on is helping humanity when humanity needs it. At Christmas we need to ask ourselves, “how we can reach out to those around about us?”
A Season to Hope
You may feel like you are trapped, living in poverty, oppressed by things beyond your control, simply having no livelihood to support you. Or, you may be homeless, going through that period in your life where simply existing day to day is a struggle. You may also be a man that has come from a rough background, in which your parents are divorced, and nobody in your family speaks to you.
Pause for one moment, and consider the story of Jesus’ birth. It tells us that God really knows what you may be going through at this time of year. This gift came into this world practically homeless, born to a young virgin woman, in nothing more than a mere feeding trough, wrapped in swaddling cloth. Born into extreme poverty Christ was surrounded by Shepherds and sheep in His infancy.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)
A Season to Live
The reason I can sing this time of year is simply because when I look at this message of Peace among men, it is a peace and hope that can only be found in knowing who has reached out to us in life. For me, that person is Christ. For you, it may be that friend, mate or colleague who showed up when we needed them the most.
I am a firm believer in seeing men raised up, given that second chance, and a new day to live. How about you? Who can you help this time of year and encourage in this walk called life?