Posts Tagged ‘True Story’

For the old man’s daughter, it would be a life without options.  She had not chosen which household she would be born into.  She had not chosen how her father would live his life.  She had not chosen slavery, nor prostitution, but it was the life that awaited her.  Hers’ was a life without options.

“Oh God,” she would cry in the still hours of the night, “is there anyone who can save me?”

On the other side of the village, beside the warm glow of a crackling fire, a young man lay face down on the hard stone floor.  His was a life without options.  Born into a family of wealth and extravagance beyond the imagination of most, he was accustomed to privilege.  He had lost his parents to the plague at an early age and had been required to mature quickly in order to manage the vast estate and resources of his family.  Though he was now alone, the legacy of faith and righteousness his mother and father had instilled in him was a constant companion.

“Oh God,” the young man whispered into the cold, dark night, “All that I am is Yours.  How can I serve the Christ child, the One who has saved me?”

It had been a brief three hundred years since the King of Glory had conquered death and brought hope to mankind, and the message of his gospel was alive, even in Patara, Lycia, at the Southern tip of Turkey.  The message was living and it burned in the heart of this wealthy orphan.

And in the crisp air of this Turkish night, two prayers mingled together.  Voices, like wisps of smoke, made their way to Heaven in a strange melody.  Desperation and discontent danced.  The need of each would be the answer to the other.  Poverty would be met by provision, and both would discover the power of purpose.

Young Nicholas arose from his fireside prayer.  Heaven had answered, and he knew what to do.  A quick visit to the storehouse, and then to the stable, and he was off — mounted on his white steed he blazed through the village under a canopy of starlight, a sack draped across his back.  The sting of the cold night air was countered by the rush of blood that intoxicated him.  His face was hot, his breath was short, his eyes watered as his horse rode on.  Panic and joy formed two storm fronts in his heart and erupted in thunderclaps of laughter as he continued his ride.

She had no options, therefore he had no options.  He nudged his stallion though the twist and turns of the muddy village streets as the weaver’s house came into view.  The weaver was a good man, but not a wise man.  He had raised his three daughters alone after the loss of his wife, and the fire four winters ago had left them with nothing and no opportunity to rebuild.  He wept each night, not so much from the hunger as from having to watch his children wither from the effects of his poverty.  And so he felt he had no option, he must sell his oldest in hopes of providing for the younger two.

He wept.

She wept.

And Nicholas rode, weeping and laughing.

The faint smoke of a smoldering fire could be seen rising through a tattered hole in the roof.  Nicholas spurred on his mount, faster and faster.  He could not help being heard, but he must not be seen.  He was galloping now, feet planted in the stirrups, his back bent as he whispered praises to God in his horse’s listening ear.

They blazed past the fire-charred weaver’s home, and in one motion Nicholas heaved the bag over his shoulder and toward the hole in the roof where a chimney once stood.  With a shout of “Christkindl,” or “Christ child” as we would understand it, he was off, still laughing, still crying, so much more alive than he had ever dreamed possible.

And the bag — that bag filled with gold coins — that bag would offer hope of a new life for a young woman hours away from the auction block.  That bag must have sprouted wings, or been met by a winged messenger, for its path was too perfect.  Its landing was too soft as it flew through the hole in the roof and settled quietly in the stocking of the young woman, the very stocking she had hung to dry by the fire that night.

Prayers of desperation changed the course of history that night, as they danced their way to heaven and brought life to the giver and the receiver. 

For the young woman, the stocking of gold became her dowry.  She became eligible to marry and marry she did, to a good and kind noble man, and the legacy of her descendents was changed forever.

The young woman had younger sisters, each of whom would cry out to the Lord and each of whom would receive a gift from Nicholas that would save their lives and alter their history.

And the weaver, he wept no more, for his daughters did not go to bed hungry.

As for Nicholas, he continued to live a life with out options.  A life of radical obedience and unhindered generosity.  And the heart pounding rush of giving a gift would continue to erupt in thunderous laughter.  He laughed not only in giving, but in suffering, as he was tortured for his faith.  His captors desired to see him renounce Jesus, but all they heard was the sound of laughter.  He laughed as he confronted heresy in the leaders of his church.  Some sought to deny the glorious divinity of King Jesus, but all they heard from him was the sound of laughter.

Photo: Patryk Specjal

He learned to laugh from giving, and laughter became his gift and his strength for living.  He would laugh in the face of friends or in the face of enemies, with shouts of “Christkindl,’ or “for the Christ child!”

And thus, through the course of history, some came to know him as Chris Kringle.  Some came to know him as Saint Nicholas.  Children in our lands have heard him called Santa Claus.

An orphan boy, whose heart found warmth in the fire of God.  He had nowhere else to go — he had no options.

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