My husband and my first Christmas together was miserably poor but blissfully happy. We had met in Bible college and married in late August after the Summer Session. Our college had a rule prohibiting couples who had been married less than a few months from returning to school. So, instead of working a profitable secular job, we agreed to serve as a youth pastor, janitor, music director, etc. at a small rural church in Cincinnati in exchange for meals and lodging in the attic of the parsonage. The pastor and his family lived downstairs, and the church was located nearby. Poverty and lack of privacy are not the ideal ingredients with which to begin a life together, but we were young and naive and in love with God, each other, and the ministry. 

Things had really changed by our second Christmas! We were back in Bible college, working secular jobs, and living in a very tiny one-room apartment. We were too poor to travel back home two time zones away, but we both had Christmas morning off from work and planned to treat ourselves to lunch at a restaurant. Because of these plans, I didn’t bother going grocery shopping that week. You can only imagine how disappointed we were to discover that no restaurant in our town was open. We ended up making a Christmas meal out of overpriced bread and salami from a gas station convenience store. It was my fault, and I still can’t stand salami after all these years. 

We laugh about our early Christmases now. They were times of no trees and few gifts, but God took care of us, gave us health, kept us safe, and paid all our bills. Other than the fact that many places are open on Christmas today so that there is no longer any need to purchase expensive lunch meat at the 7/11, our last several Christmases have been a lot like the first few: just the two of us enjoying the blessings and goodness of God. 

The best thing we have learned in close to fifty Christmases together is the gift of giving. The joy we have received from giving never runs out, wears out, breaks down, or needs new batteries. If you would like to get in on this gift, here are a few suggestions: 

1. Be a Secret Santa.

Purchase gifts for a struggling family and arrange it so that the gifts are received anonymously. If you don’t know anyone who fits into that category, ask the youth pastor or a bus captain. 

2. Be a Betty Crocker.

Make a meal for a shut-in or volunteer to bake cookies, cupcakes, or other treats for a bus route. Contact any of the bus captains at the Saturday morning Faithfulness Rally to get a count. 

3. Be a Good Samaritan.

Give to a ministry without getting something in return. There are many ministries with limited resources, such as bus routes, nurseries, and Sunday School classes, yet they are working and praying hard to fill a need. 

4. Be Ready to be a Blessing.

Keep a gift card or large bill stashed in your wallet so that when the Holy Spirit whispers to you, “That person could use a blessing,” you can walk up to him or her and truthfully say, “Someone asked me to give this to you.” 

Christmas only comes once a year, and it is always over before you know it. But Christmas can last all year if you learn and practice the gift of giving! 

Share this post

Joy Flint

Joy Flint, GSBC Alumni Director

Mrs. Flint serves as the Alumni Director of Golden State Baptist College and has been teaching at GSBC for twenty years. She is the wife of Brother Mike Flint, the mother of two GSBC alumni, and a grandmother of four “Bear Cubs.”