The Five Days of Christmas

This is my gift. Elton sings that his gift is his song (and this one's for you... : ). My gift to you is my small words from my small mind. I had a strange thought in worship this morning about the five remaining days until Christmas, and I wondered if there were five gifts God were to teach us from His Christmas Story - what they would be? I took a stab at coming up with them, and I decided that I would use each day until Christmas to share each of them (for anyone who would want to read - though this one is coming a bit late : ):

~GLORIA~ (from journal in Uganda)

She had captured my heart from the day the children from the orphanage met us after we landed in Uganda. Her smile was not a normal one - her eyes, radiant - and there was something.....something I couldn't quite put my finger on. One by one each of the children came up and gave us a hug individually - as if it were wrapped in a gift and custom made for each person. Her embrace was as special as her smile. It was a shy, side hug and she looked down as she gave it. "What's your name?" I asked as I cradled the left side of her face with my right hand.

"Gloria" She said timidly. "My name is Glooooria," she repeated, in her Acholi accent.

Gloria.....and That she was. I watched her on and off during the week. I found her often standing next to me or looking down to find her seated beside me on the way to the IDP camp. She was subtle in wanting my attention - yet she sought it nonetheless, and I so desired to give it. I asked Rose about her story. They all had a story...but her's was unique.

"She and her parents were abducted by the rebels. She watched her parents die but was spared and then went to live with her auntie.....who died the next year from HIV. She then went to live with her grandmother who soon also died. She was found in a hut living alone."

"Did she have any siblings at all?"

"No - None"

ALONE.....such a powerful word. Cutting. Deep. Barren.

I watched her tonight as the children had their nightly bible study, said their memory verses aloud, and placed their small hands over their eyes as they prayed so diligently. Youth seems to know small boundaries in a war with no limits. I watched her look around the room with a look in her eyes of lostness. Searching - as if out of place. I watched her as she prayed. As she stated her memory verse. She watched back.

As my eyes followed her, I couldn't help but remember a song that must be playing about now back in the states. A song that captured her - a song that God must sing as He looks down on her every day - remembering her story of abandonment and lonliness. Most, if not all, of the other orphans are in sibling groups - but there is only one Gloria. Ironically wearing her green tied died tank top and her red corduroy pants - she simply looked lost - but her smile covered such a multitude of pain. She seemed to be missing something - yet if it were not for the orphanage, she would simply be Missing. So I watched her, and I hugged her goodbye, and I hurt for her, and I sang that sweet Christmas song in my head over and over on the ride home.

"Gloooooria in excelsis Deo"

And I thought about all of the orphans there - why did I hurt for her? Why?

She was alone. She was in a room full of orphans just like her and she was alone. There is little worse in life. Isolation left to its own will kill - if not the body then the spirit. When I got home I opened my bible and looked down to see what i was to read for the night. Matthew One. The first page of the book. I looked down and there were four words underlined. Four Words.

"God Is With Us." The previous sentence was this. "She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel." Yeah, He never ceases to amaze me.

What is the opposite of being alone? Of being lonely? It is simply to be "together." That's it. So simply. To simply be WITH. When asked what my favorite part of the first week in Sudan was I said this. When I had given each of the children a red heart and told them that represented God. I asked them to hold it close to their chest while they thought of their heartache and to then picture God being there.....somewhere.....with them. Then I had them to stand up and say together in their native tongue and their loudest voices, "GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE ME. GOD WILL NEVER FORSAKE ME. GOD LOVES ME." I captured that moment in my mind......and it will stay there forever.

You know, there are many things that God could have named Jesus. Many names that would have had different meanings. Thousands upon thousands of names He could have chosen. But out of all of those thousands upon thousands He chose one. G O D I S W I T H Y O U....and me.....and Gloria. He wanted us to know that so badly that he came down to show us. Maybe we had to see it for ourselves. Maybe it wasn't enough for Him just to tell us.

So on this long-winded "Day Five" - we find one word: Togetherness. There is a quote that I have struggled believing, "If we could truly grasp how deeply we are loved by God, we would never feel lonely again." Is it true? I have come to believe this: The question is not if it is true - the question is how deeply can we grasp the depth of His love? How diligently are we to pursue it? How welcoming are we to receive it? To be loved? If we can do that.....well, it would truly be.......

Glorious.

Tune in tomorrow for Day Four.