November 29, 2013

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

A gift from our God who knows every child’s need

Debra TomaselliShivering, I glanced outside. Grey skies added a chill to the December air that we, living in Florida, weren’t used to. This week in particular, as my neighbors and I discussed Christmas festivities, we found ourselves grumbling about the freezing weather.

I went home, keenly aware that we had nothing to complain about. We could heat our plush homes, don sweaters and coats … or even purchase new ones.

Rather, I found myself thinking about the people at the local homeless shelter where my Bible study group served meals. Glancing at the clock, I knew they’d soon be gathering for lunch.

Suddenly, I searched my closets, grabbing sweaters, coats and a little pink jacket my daughter had outgrown. Then I phoned neighbors and asked if they would do the same, promising to deliver their donations immediately. Soon, I was on my way to the shelter, arriving with an armload of clothing.

“Anybody want a coat or a sweater?” I announced, unloading them onto a table.

The women swarmed over, helping each other choose the right style and size. Amazingly, each took only what they needed, nothing more. Finally, the only remaining items were one frayed sweater and the little pink jacket.

The women thanked me and directed me toward other residents. As I entered the courtyard, I saw a frail woman with straggly hair.

“Would you like a sweater?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, pointing to her cotton shirt. “This is all I have for the cold.”

Smiling, she donned the sweater.

The last item was the little pink jacket. I entered the residential building and found an overweight woman sitting on a folding chair, talking into a pay phone. I waved the pink jacket at her.

“Do you know anybody who needs this?”

The woman motioned toward a child in the hallway.

“Maybe her,” she said.

A beautiful girl with braided pigtails approached. She had big, brown eyes that sparkled at the sight of the jacket.

“Would you like this?” I asked.

She nodded enthusiastically.

“It’s yours!” I said. It fit perfectly!

Turning to leave, I added, “Merry Christmas!”

The woman at the pay phone paused.

“Not only that,” she said, “but it’s her birthday.”

I bent down next to the girl.

“Happy birthday,” I said. “How old are you today?”

“Six,” she said. She pulled a necklace out from her collar, and proudly showed me her silver crucifix.

“I love Jesus, too!” I exclaimed.

Beaming, she hugged me.

“Happy birthday,” I said, returning the embrace. “Merry Christmas.”

As I left, I overheard the woman on the phone offering an explanation. “I don’t know,” she said, “Some lady just came here and gave her a jacket …”

But the gift really wasn’t from some lady. The gift was from a God who loved that child and knew her every need. It’s the same God who loves you and knows your every need. It’s the same God who sent his Son to be born in a manger so we could be together in eternity.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Cor 9:15).

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at

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