And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
I am Cherokee and, like most American Indians today, I do not live on a reservation. I grew up in a city during the days when Westerns reigned on television. All three networks we received were watched by everyone. There were no other channels. Television on demand did not exist. (Some of you might remember this, too.)
When I was young, there were lots of westerns in the rotation: Cheyenne, Death Valley Days, Broken Arrow, Wild Bill Hickok, Zane Grey Theatre, Annie Oakley, Have Gun - Will Travel, Bat Masterson, Davy Crockett, and Wyatt Earp. I could keep going, there were that many! Visions of cowboys and Indians and their horses danced in my head every night.
So, when I was five, I wrote a letter to Santa asking for a pony. For extra assistance, I even called on God to help, and I prayed for many nights before Christmas for that pony.
Every night, my mother tucked me into bed and prayed with me. She warned me that prayers aren't magic but requests. Some prayers are not answered the way we hope they will.
I was undeterred. I was certain I would find a pony tied to our Christmas tree on Christmas morning.
That Christmas morning – no pony!
Oh, the mind of a five-year-old!
Every day, Native people pray and when God doesn't answer the way they hope, or when they see generations of pain at the hands of "godly men," they believe God must not care about the Indians. That's where you and I step in - sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ that is for ALL PEOPLE and explaining, the way my mom did, that prayers aren't always answered the way we hope but "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
The best Christmas gift we have received, and the one we get to share, is the opportunity to walk with Jesus.
Lord, have the Holy Spirit open our eyes to the things You are doing in our lives this very day. Thank You for Your steadfast love and for the greatest gift of all, your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.