The Best Christmas We Ever Had

The Christmas of 1984 was the best we ever had. That was the year HG Wells called the War of the Worlds. Of course, that never happened, but there was a smaller war of the worlds in our family. I had prayed a lot that year for my dad to get saved.

The year before, I had moved about 500 miles away from home to take a job in Ohio. When I went home for Thanksgiving I got to spend a whole day with my dad. We rode in his truck for about an hour and a half, which gave me the opportunity to tell him everything I had wanted to share with him. It was the opportunity I had hoped for, but after sharing everything I felt discouraged because I could tell he never heard me. It seemed like his mind was a million miles away. I went back to Ohio feeling sad because it appeared there was no way my dad would ever get saved.

Now Christmas was coming. I was looking forward to going back home for Christmas, but I had given up all hope that anything could happen in my dad’s life. I put these things out of my mind and did not think of them again. I did not realize it at the time, but I was about to learn what appears to be impossible for us is still possible for God.

Then something amazing happened. Just a few days before I left Ohio to come home, I had a dream. It was December 19, 1984. I dreamed I saw an old panhandler living out in the wilderness. He lived in a house by a river where he panned for gold, but the river had completely dried up. With the river gone, the old man had lost all hope of ever finding any gold. Then the scene changed and I saw myself walking out in the wilderness with my mom walking beside me. We were heading straight toward the old panhandler’s house. When we got there, we went to the bank of the river and dug up some big gold nuggets. We somehow knew right where to dig. These gold nuggets were there all along but the panhandler did not know where to find them. We put them into sacks and carried them into his house. We found him lying on a cot upstairs in what looked like an attic. His face looked full of despair. We took the sacks and poured out the gold nuggets all over the floor. The old panhandler’s eyes lit up as he saw these huge pieces of gold going everywhere. He dove off the cot onto the floor and grabbed the nuggets and held them up close to see. He could hardly believe it was gold and lots of it! He was so happy!

When I woke up, I remembered the dream and I thought about it for a while but I did not know what it meant so I just went on with my day and forgot about it. But that night, while I was having my prayer time, the Lord said to me, “The old man in the dream is your father, and I am the gold.”

I could hardly believe it! At that moment, a most unusual thing began to happen to me. Every Christmas I could ever remember began racing through my mind. The scenes from Christmas after Christmas flashed before my eyes like watching a movie. The very air around me suddenly felt like it was Christmas day! All the lights, trees, presents, excitement and feelings of Christmas were suddenly as real as if they were happening right there. For a moment I actually thought, “Today is Christmas day!” But then I thought, “Oh no! This dream is coming to pass already and I am still here so far away from home. I have missed it!” Then I realized it is not Christmas yet! I still have time to get home for Christmas!

I was so excited about what the Lord had shown me that I fell to the ground weeping. Then I got up and ran downstairs and called my mom to tell her the good news. “Mama, the Lord showed me that Daddy is going to get saved this Christmas!”

She confirmed it saying, “These last few days he has been really searching. Last night, he stayed up past midnight reading the Bible.”

So then I knew what to buy him for Christmas. I bought him a beautiful new Bible with his name engraved on it. Then I wrote on the inside cover page, “Merry Christmas, the best Christmas we ever had.”

Since it was the family tradition to open presents on the night before Christmas, I felt sure that would be the time when my father would accept the Lord into his heart. But when Christmas eve came, we opened all of our presents like we always had and nothing unusual happened. In fact, when my dad opened the new Bible that I gave him, he never even saw what I wrote inside. I went to bed wondering what went wrong. Why didn’t it happen like in the dream?”

While I was lying in bed wondering about all of that, my dad knocked on my door. He came to tell me he saw what I had written in his new Bible. He just wanted to thank me for that again. I did not say anything about my dream.

The next day was Christmas day. All day long I waited for something to happen, but nothing did. That evening, my parents were expecting company. It appeared they would be spending the whole evening with their friends so there would be no opportunity for anything else to happen. So I reluctantly put the whole thing out of my mind.

It was already dark outside on Christmas night when the phone rang and the friends of my parents that were supposed to come over cancelled their plans. Then the phone rang again and my father answered it. This time it was my older brother’s wife calling with the news of trouble in their house as they had been fighting again and it had gotten so bad that she had called the police.

When my father hung up the phone he was very upset. It was not just the phone call but it was because his life was already full of more troubles than he knew how to handle. He had retired from his career in the food business and was not yet sure what he was going to do next. He was facing problems that had gotten too big for him to handle. He called upstairs, “Son, come on let’s go for a walk.”

It was a “suddenly” moment. Suddenly, what seemed so impossible became possible. Suddenly, what seemed like it would never happen was happening so fast that I did not even have time to tie my shoes. It was like when the Lord moved suddenly to bring all of Israel out of Egyptian bondage in one day. They had been bound up there in slavery for 430 years and then suddenly they were thrust out of there so fast they did not even have time to put leaven in their bread. He told them to eat their Passover meal with their sandals already on their feet and their staff in their hand because they were going to be leaving that place suddenly (Exodus 12:11).

When my dad and I stepped outside, he was trembling with fear as he confided to me, “I’m so scared.”

But I already knew what was about to happen so I told him, “You don’t have to be afraid. The Lord has already shown me in a dream that this was going to be the best Christmas we ever had.”

When I finished saying that, immediately all the fear left him and the peace of God settled on him. His whole countenance suddenly changed. As we started walking down the driveway, he told me, “I feel so much peace!”

Then I told him all about the dream I had. I told him how the old panhandler’s river had dried up, like someone who no longer had the answers that he needed. But in the dream, on Christmas day, that old panhandler found the biggest gold nuggets he ever saw. We walked across the street and out onto the middle of the 10th fairway of the golf course. My dad stopped there and said, “Let’s pray.” We both got down on our knees. He prayed, “Lord, I know I need to turn my life over to you. Forgive me for my sins, in Christ’s name we pray. Amen.”

It was a short simple prayer, but he meant it with all of his heart. That was all it took for his life to begin a new direction. That Christmas night my dad received the greatest gift anyone could ever receive, God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

When we walked back into the house, my mom had the television turned onto a Christian program and Phil Driscoll was blowing his trumpet with the joyful sounds of heaven. I will never forget that Christmas night. It was the best Christmas we ever had!

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