One of the books my family owned when I grew up was a Whitman Giant Book, The Christmas Book, a collection of forty-five Christmas stories and poems. How do I know it had forty-five stories? That book sits on my shelf today.
At one inch thick this book was enormous to my small hands, yet I tugged it off the bookshelf often and flipped the pages one by one. At first, all I could do was look at the pictures. Then I asked others to read stories to me. Finally, I was able to read the words on each page by myself.
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl was one of my favorite stories. I returned to it over and over. I don’t know why.
Although it does have a happily ever after ending, the story itself is rather sad. If you have read it, maybe you understand. If you haven’t read the story, perhaps now is a good time to read it.
The spark for this post came when I recently pulled that book off my bookshelf and turned the faded, torn pages to page 281 and once again read the story that held my attention all those many years ago.
The story is about a little girl who lives with her strict father in a rundown shack. Her job is to sell matches. Christmas Eve she finds herself cold, hungry, and alone on the street with only her small handful of matches.
Three separate times she lights a match. Each time she envisions beautiful, wondrous sights. Near the end of the story a star falls, reminding the little girl of what her grandmother told her before the grandmother died … when a star falls from the sky, someone is dying and their soul goes up to God.
The little girl believes she sees her grandmother, and asks her to take her with her.
This time, however, it isn’t a vision. The grandmotherly woman the girl sees is real. She takes the match girl home to live with her forever.
Or is it?
We may find ourselves cold, hungry, and alone in the world and wish someone cared enough to notice us. To love us. To provide for and protect us. We’ve lit every single match we hold, and still, nothing. It all goes up in smoke. We feel as if all is hopeless.
That is until Jesus steps into our lives, picks us up from the cold stone step we’ve sat on and carries us to his home that is more beautiful and wondrous than we could ever imagine. It’s warm. We’re safe. We smell delicious food. Jesus is smiling at us and says he wants us to be his child forever.
Will we accept?
The choice is ours to make. We can stay outside the warmth of Christ’s love, or we can jump right into his arms and be safe now and forever.
The little match girl chose to stay safe with the lady who wanted to adopt her. What choice will we make?
I wish you well.