A Christmas Story

Southaven, Ms

By: Mike Upchurch

Chapter One

Tired, and still fuming about “that jerk” in traffic that had flipped him off, Kevin fumbled in the dark at the front door for his house key, certain he’d grabbed the right key ring out of his truck. Finally in frustration, and getting more flustered by the moment, he stepped away from the door to look at the keys in the dim light of his neighbor’s outdoor lighting. Naturally he’d grabbed the wrong set. Grumbling, he looked in the truck console and found the key ring needed. Once inside, the cold dark hallway quickly grabbed his attention, and he barked out loud “Now what?” Hitting the nearest light switch, nothing happened. “Great, the power’s out!” he muttered angrily! Then he remembered his neighbor’s floodlights were on so they had power. Going back outside, he looked up and down the street and noticed that everyone had lights but him.

Back in the house again, he got out his cigarette lighter and headed to the garage to check the electrical panel, muttering cuss words as he went. Nothing odd there, and then it dawned on him; his Utility company had warned him of his past due balance and threatened to disconnect his service. A quick check of the Power Company’s app confirmed he’d been cut off!

“Well, that’s just perfect!” he exclaimed to no one within hearing. His wife Julie had left months ago.

Chapter Two

Angry his power was out, Kevin stormed back into the kitchen. He rummaged around to find a candle in the junk drawer and lit it. Heading into the living room, he kicked at the side of his recliner in anger and accented his second kick with a couple of choice cuss words!

Sitting there, watching the candle cast dancing shadows around the room, he thought to himself this was NOT how he imagined this Christmas season would turn out. Back in the Spring of the year, things were basically ok. Not great, but ok. But then his job began causing a lot of stress. He’d been working longer hours and was under a lot of pressure, and it seemed like all he did in the evenings was sit in his recliner and drink. When Julie would mention this, Kevin saw it as nagging and an argument would almost always ensue.

Then it transitioned from their constantly fighting to her just being silent most days, with both of them just going through the motions of marriage. He should have heeded the warning signs, but he had always figured things would eventually get better. Then Julie lost her Mother and spent even more time alone or at her sister’s, and it seemed like nothing he did could please her anymore. On the rare nights they would try to do something together, it usually ended in an argument with Julie going to bed early, while Kevin turned to the bottle.

Eventually, angry with Julie’s rejection of him and feeling justified in his own mind, Kevin looked for comfort in the arms of a female coworker. Sarah wasn’t as attractive as Julie, but she loved to laugh at his off color jokes and she was easily seduced. The attention he gave her paid off for him and they began secretly meeting. It wasn’t the brightest thing he’d ever done, but he consoled himself thinking “Who could blame him?” He needed love from someone, anyone, and she was a willing accomplice. 

The illicit romance ended abruptly however, when Sarah’s husband found a suggestive text message from Kevin on her cell phone. To make matters worse, he confronted Kevin, who then had to admit to Julie of the affair when the husband threatened to expose him. Kevin’s unfaithfulness added to Julie’s despair with their marriage, and she was done. She filed for divorce, moving in with her sister. Even worse, the office gossip of their affair finally made its way to Corporate and word was that Kevin might be fired.

Chapter Three

Kevin had never been “religious” as he called it.  But he certainly wasn’t a bad person at all, by his standards anyway.  After all, he had never murdered anyone or robbed a bank. So what if he cussed a little, well a lot, or lied on his taxes every year. Everyone did! Ok, so he looked at porn now and then, but he didn’t personally know any guys that didn’t! And he didn’t feel that guilty about cheating on his wife, because Julie had rejected him; he knew he wasn’t the only guy to ever do that. Still, Kevin was pretty sure he was going to Heaven because he was an American, and not some third world infidel!

But now with his marriage having collapsed, his bills piling up without her income, and his future at work becoming more and more in doubt, he wondered to himself that night “Why is God mad at ME? Why am I being punished?  I don’t deserve any of this. None of this is my fault!”

Kevin got up from his recliner and grabbed a bottle of Scotch from under the microwave cabinet. He decided to sit in the dark and drink to his misery. He hoped it would numb the pain of the emotional darkness closing in around him. “Merry ‘effin’ Christmas” he said to himself as he settled back in his recliner. 

Waking up a few hours later he was now groggy, hungry, and disoriented; having had perhaps a bit too much Christmas spirit. He stumbled into the kitchen and sat at the breakfast table, once again pondering his fate, seemingly at the hands of an angry God. Here he was with no power and not enough money to have the utilities turned back on; he was facing possible termination at his job for an extra marital affair with a coworker; and it was Christmas. Not having any extra money meant there would be no presents for any family members.

Slumped at the table and running his hands through his hair in frustration, Kevin began once again to blame God for his current plight. “God, why don’t you HELP me instead of punishing me?” he cried out in anger.

Chapter Four

Sitting in the dark in his kitchen, Kevin realized that he needed someone to cheer him up and console him, and maybe give him some advice. He couldn’t call his brother Eddie because he’d just preach to him about how screwed up his life was, like he always had. He sure couldn’t call Julie. He knew she would say this mess he was in was his fault alone. He was too embarrassed to call his best buddy Mark and have to admit he was broke and without power.

Finally he settled on the only guy he could think of; a Pastor who performed the wedding of his niece earlier that year. He seemed like a really nice guy, and Kevin was certain that he wouldn’t tell him what a louse he was like everyone else would. Who knows, he might even offer to get him some financial help.

Looking up the Pastor on Facebook, he messaged him and asked if he could call if he wasn’t too busy.

He poured another drink to help combat his growing headache and looked for something to eat, waiting on the Minister to respond. He repeatedly checked Messenger to see if he had even seen his message. Finally he noticed that he had, and within minutes his phone rang.

 Certain the Pastor would side with him, Kevin began pouring out his troubles. He addressed him as “Reverend”, a title he heard his Dad use frequently when he was alive, simply because he didn’t know what else to call him. The Pastor listened patiently for awhile, then after a brief pause asked Kevin if he knew Jesus as Savior.

Kevin wasn’t expecting that question from him, and wondered what in the world that had to do with his troubles.  “Had this guy even been listening?” he thought to himself. 

Chapter Five

As he sat on the phone with the “Good Reverend”, and after Kevin had told him all that he was going through, the Pastor then asked Kevin if he knew Jesus as Savior.  

He stopped for a moment, baffled at the question. He had hoped the Pastor would perhaps offer him money to help out, but instead that question came out of the blue.  Kevin then responded “I don’t know…..I guess so…..why, what do you mean?” 

As the Reverend explained salvation, Jesus coming to earth to die for him, and how confessing his sins would establish a relationship with the Lord, Kevin heard things seemingly for the first time. He may have heard these things in the past, but this time they were making sense. In listening to this man, Kevin learned God wasn’t angry with him at all, and in fact that God loved him very much, but as a holy God He couldn’t fellowship with sin.  Kevin then remembered his Granddad saying one time “Son, God don’t even hear the prayers of sinners!”  Now it began to make sense.  

As the Pastor explained more about being a Christian, Kevin felt ashamed and dirty. He realized that he hadn’t acted as he should toward his wife. Not just the affair, but he realized he hadn’t really cared when she would try to reach out to him about their relationship. He remembered her tears and the look of hurt in her eyes when he would snap at her.  He winced as he remembered smashing a glass on the kitchen floor that time in anger at her. She was talking about his drinking and how she wished he would get help. “I don’t need no damn help!” he had yelled, as she pulled away in fear.  

In listening to the Reverend and reflecting on his life of late, it was suddenly becoming painfully clear to Kevin that he didn’t know God at all, and that he was in danger of being sent to Hell. Not because God was angry with him, but because he didn’t have a relationship with the Lord, and he had never said he was sorry for his sins and repented, trying to do better.  

 There that night, sitting in the kitchen on his cell phone, Kevin began to weep. He felt truly sorry, not even understanding why.  It was actually the first time he’d felt the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and he just sobbed.

As the Pastor invited him to repeat the sinner’s prayer, Kevin gave his heart to Jesus right there on the phone.

Wiping his tears as they concluded the call, he thanked him and said he would see him in Church soon.

Lighting another candle and then taking a deep breath as he gathered himself together, he realized he felt differently. He felt clean inside! And he felt something he hadn’t felt in years. Peace. It was a quiet and calming peace and it was wonderful to experience.

Kevin wasn’t sure how his troubles would get better, but he knew somehow they would. And really, with this newfound peace in him, he didn’t even care at that moment. 

He thought back over the Pastor’s words that night. He had a Heavenly Father whom he could pray to! And he knew Jesus loved him and accepted him, not cleaned up, but just as he was!  And he finally understood the importance of Christmas. It was the birth of his Savior!

Kevin began humming “Joy to the World”, the only Christmas carol he could think of at that moment, and thought to himself that he had a lot of people he needed to apologize to! He also thought about going to the attic and getting the Christmas tree down. He figured he could decorate it tomorrow in the daylight coming through the windows.  Just then, another song popped in his head and he couldn’t help himself!  “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” he sang out!  And as he sang, painfully off key, he realized he was smiling…..and he wasn’t even drunk! 

Kevin picked up his cell phone again and scrolled down to Julie’s number, his soon to be ex-wife.  He couldn’t WAIT to tell her what had happened to him, though he was a little nervous about calling her. For the first time in as long as he could remember, he was filled with joy, but there was more; he felt a deep conviction within him to try and make things right. And it was going to start with her.  “Joy to the World, the Lord is come” he sang out, then laughed at how horrible his singing was. Then he laughed again for no particular reason. But we know the true reason for his laughing; Christmas had come, and it was in Kevin’s heart!

                The End

A note from the Author:

What happened in Kevin’s heart can happen to you as well if you don’t know Jesus personally, and this can be YOUR best Christmas ever!  The apostle Paul outlined all that is required in order to be saved in the book of Romans…..

“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-11, 13

Merry Christmas to all, and remember that Jesus really is the reason for the Season!

Copyright 2019

Pastor Mike