Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas: GOOD BOYS AND GIRLS

by Cindy Stiverson
This time of year, songs of my childhood replay in my mind. Christmas Carols continue to rhyme in my 50-something head. Warnings that "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and the expected behavior for expecting a gift remind me that I "better be good for goodness sake"!

As a child, these songs spoke more to me about how to be a good girl than about how to get a good gift. According to the song, Santa was always watching. He was "makin' a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice".  Being good meant that I "better watch out, better not cry, better not pout". But I already knew that. My mother reminded me often!

I really wanted to be good, to get approval. My view of God was the legalistic Santa portrayed in this song: constantly watching, expecting me to mess up, waiting for me to cry or pout so he could scratch me off his list. I was doomed to fail.

In all those years of contemplating the meaning of this song, it never came to life for me as it did in 2003, when I was speaking and preaching in South Africa. Most profound was a week of revival services in an Indian Church, Shallcross Church of the Nazarene. In the final service, the Holy Spirit moved so strongly that a line formed the entire length of the church. Pastor Frank Pillay insisted that I be the only one praying for those who responded. Nearly all of the 200-some adults who attended that night waited for me to lay hands on them and pray. Entire families sat on a pew in front of me and jointly presented their requests.

When the church was emptied, so was I. Seated alone on the front pew, I rested in the Lord's presence, rehearsing all the faces, requests and needs in my mind. A group of children began to congregate around me. Six, eight, ten years old, they stood there, brown eyes looking into mine. One sat down beside me and asked me to pray.

"What would you like me to pray for?"
"I want to be a good boy."

We prayed. He got up. Another child sat down.

"How can I pray for you?"
"I want to be a good girl."

Again and again and again, the same words, the same exact request until every child had been prayed for, some accepting Jesus into their hearts. Others just wanting to be sure they were "good" for God.

When all were gone, my sobbing echoed through the church. I was so humbled by how the Holy Spirit had moved in those tiny hearts.
I praise God that like Santa, "He knows if you are sleeping. He knows if you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake." But unlike this portrayal of Santa, God doesn't punish us for crying or pouting or sobbing. He understands our every emotion. He knows everything about us and beckons us to come, to sit on his lap because He loves us regardless of what we've done.

Psalm 139:1-6
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!



I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving the Lord with all my heart and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life!

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