For we walk by faith, not by sight.
(2 Corinthians 5:7, NASB)
My most memorable Christmas story was my own. It was Christmas Day in 1957. The year that I accepted the Lord as my Savior, I had left home to attend a military boarding school. I went from dependence on my parents to strict “yes, sir—no, sir!” discipline overnight. The slightest mistake was confronted with “life-threatening” consequences. Who has tried to successfully control adolescent boys? As a smallish 14-year-old, I was looking for someone to trust now that my family was far away. A crusade was in progress, and I listened intently as the evangelistic team preached and sang their way into my heart. One night “after hours” I knelt by my bed and began my saving relationship with Christ, which has continued to this day. I told my parents what I had done, and they gave me a Bible “of my own.” To my knowledge I was the only one in my high school or college with a personal Bible. I kept it by my bed and read it most days before going to sleep. In those readings the Lord gave me a life-verse to guide me through the years, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Christmas at our home was always a joyous time of fellowship and giving. That did not stop! But in 1957 I began to realize that the deeper meaning of Christmas is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). I did not become “a theologian” in 1957 and have spent years proving the point. But as I began to “walk by faith,” glimmers of the importance of the Christmas story took root in my heart in a setting where it was neither valued nor even mentioned. I remember vividly that I heard the “good news” that has meant “great joy” over my lifetime, “Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, NET).