God’s mosaics and Christmas

Have you ever come across a construction site where the men were laboriously laying a tiled floor, one of those mosaic floors with thousands of tiny tiles that create a picture when finished? While it’s being put in place, the picture isn’t clearly visible, because as they work, the men use a cement mortar to fill the area between the tiles, and the grout often leaves a gray film over the whole masterpiece that hides the beauty of all that’s been done. At the end, it is finally cleaned off to reveal the picture in its full beauty.

That’s so much like the way the Lord works in our lives. In His all-knowing wisdom and love, He understands exactly what we need and He goes to great lengths, with so much intricate detail, to provide things for us—sometimes even before we realize how important they’re going to be to us.

Often He uses the struggles of life—like economic difficulties, or personal struggles and lacks and mistakes—to work in ways we aren’t expecting. We don’t always realize how He’s preparing us, or understand why He has allowed something “gray” into our lives, like the mosaic as it’s being developed. But that only makes the final revelation of His loving and attentive care to our every need all the more profound and beautiful.

Christmas is a special time of year! More than the beautiful Christmas lights and Christmas music and Christmas cheer, it’s a reminder of His love and goodness. It’s a celebration of when it all began, when He came to earth to save us. It’s wonderful to meditate on God’s amazing love. Many Christmas stories include illustrations and examples of the Lord’s love for an individual, or show how the Lord intervened in a situation.

The following story is about how the Lord worked in the life of one woman to show her His love and prove His presence to her at Christmas:

I heaved a sigh as I sat and waited for Joshua. 15 minutes late. Not the way to make a good first impression! I thought, as I nursed my chai tea while the Starbucks surrounding me continued to fill with the after-work business crowd. I’d never been to this Starbucks, so while I was waiting for Joshua to arrive, I enjoyed watching the people who came and went, and the sea of unfamiliar faces that passed before me, at least for a while.

A few months before Christmas I’d made a decision to have a change in my life. Something about the thought of another Christmas approaching spent alone created a deeper than usual need in my heart to know that someone cared about me in that special way that I’d so often longed for but had never quite found. So I decided that my goal would be to find someone who I could at least feel that warmth of companionship with for Christmas. But this venture wasn’t quite what I had expected it to be.

This was the fifth in a string of Starbucks “dates” over the last month. I had joined a popular online dating site to launch my “project,” and Starbucks was a good place to have a first “meet and greet,” to see if you liked each other enough to take it to the next level of an official date. If it turned out to be a dud, you hadn’t wasted a lot of time or money. That aspect of it was working in my favor, as so far none of those other four Starbucks dates had amounted to anything more than a coffee or tea together, either due to a lack of interest on my part or theirs.

But with Christmas now just over a month away, reaching my goal was beginning to look a little shaky. Here I was in my early 30s, had never been married, and had only had one serious relationship in college. Joshua, the man I was to meet today, had seemed promising; we had a lot of similar interests, we liked to be physically active, we had both traveled abroad, and we were both accountants.

I looked at my watch again. He was now 20 minutes late. I decided to give him another 10 minutes. If he didn’t show, I was leaving. Perhaps he had car trouble; perhaps he got stuck in traffic; perhaps an emergency came up at work and that delayed him. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but was also a bit miffed that he hadn’t called.

Just as I was thinking this, my phone rang. It was Joshua.

“Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you for almost half an hour!”

“What do you mean, where have I been? Where have you been? I’m here at Starbucks right now, waiting for you!”

“What?!” exclaimed Joshua. “Which Starbucks?”

“The one on San Felipe Street.”

“I’m at the one on San Felipe Street!”

“Then where are you?” I asked, as I looked around. “I don’t see you!”

“Wait. What’s the address of the one you’re at? What stores are near you?”

“I’m at the one near Home Depot.”

“Oh, that explains it,” said Joshua. “There are two Starbucks on San Felipe. I’m at the one near Willowick Road.”

Oh, great, I thought. I just wasted half an hour waiting at the wrong Starbucks. When Joshua had suggested we meet at the Starbucks near his office on San Felipe, he had neglected to tell me that there were two Starbucks and exactly which one we were to meet at.

“Well, I’m afraid I can’t wait around any longer,” said Joshua. “I have to get back to work and finish up a few things. Maybe we can catch each other some other time.”

“Maybe,” I said. “I guess we’ll see.”

“What a waste of time these Starbucks ‘dates’ are turning out to be.” I muttered as I started to gather up my things to leave. Then I paused as I remembered that I had at least a 45-minute drive across town ahead of me in Houston rush-hour traffic, and since I didn’t have to get home right away, I decided to order another drink and wait out the traffic before going home.

The tables and the several big, comfortable chairs tucked in the corners had filled up. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea as me. Tired of people-watching, I took a book out of my purse—Daily Light on the Daily Path, an old devotional book originally written in the 1800s. Though I had gone to church as a child, I hadn’t really paid much attention to God or religion until my late twenties, when I became fed up with my shallow and empty existence and wanted something deeper, something more meaningful in my life. I had started attending a small evangelical church and reading the Bible and Christian devotionals, and found solace and comfort and strength in their words. I’d even prayed for God to help me find someone to spend a meaningful Christmas with this year, but I wasn’t sure if He was in the business of tending to such details with a whole universe to run.

Today’s entry was especially comforting to me: “I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you My promise. … For I know the plans I have for you, plans of wholeness … to give you a future and a hope.”

As I read these words, I felt a presence near me, and looked up. Gazing down at me, with a café latte in his hand, was a man about my age, with the warmest eyes and friendliest smile I had seen in ages.

“Do you mind if I join you? This place has really filled up!”

“Not at all, have a seat.” I think my heart skipped a couple of beats as I said it.

“I sometimes stop here during afternoon rush hour to wait out the heavy traffic. … If we’re going to share a table, I might as well introduce myself. My name is Chris. … Traffic’s not going to let up for another 20 or 30 minutes. Do you come here often? I think this is the first time I’ve seen you here.”

“I’m Kristina,” I said. “I don’t live around here; it’s my first time at this Starbucks. I live across town, near Magnolia Park.”

“What a coincidence, I live near Magnolia Park too! I work near here. It’s a long commute to and from work every day, but I don’t mind it really, because all I do is go back to my empty apartment. My wife passed away five years ago, and we didn’t have any children, so I’m usually in no hurry to get home at night. What brings you out this way?”

And so began our conversation, which started at Starbucks, continued on to pre-dinner drinks at a nearby hotel lounge, and then through a leisurely dinner at a popular steak house. By the time I got home, I knew I was totally smitten with this man whom God had literally dropped in my lap.

Chris and I did get to spend that Christmas together. In fact, we started seeing each other regularly, and eventually we married. The more I got to know Chris, the more I realized how fortunate I was to have found such a kind, loving, thoughtful, and spiritual man. He was a Christian too, and we’ve spent many hours together reading, praying, studying God’s Word, and growing together in the Lord.

It really is amazing to think about all the little things the Lord had to set up in order for me to meet Chris: the need for companionship, the flopped dates, even the mix-up of the Starbucks, the rush-hour timing, and the crowded scene that threw us together in the right place at the right time to meet. It has deepened my love for the Lord, just to see how much God plans and cares for us. He was even willing to engineer a misunderstanding that at the time left me frustrated. Little did I know that just around the next table, God was working to bring my husband to me!

This story is a reminder of God’s goodness, His willingness to give us His good gifts, and His all-knowing love in bringing things into our lives at just the right time—including the difficulties, the “nos” or the “waits,” or what may seem to be delays. He knows what’s best for us in every season, in every circumstance. Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect on His greatness and power, as we praise and worship and adore Him!

 

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