It was Christmas Eve. I’d been a Christian for ten years, but each day since I’d received Jesus as my Savior, I’d prayed for my dad’s salvation. My stubborn German father, though raised by a praying mother, had rejected his childhood faith and insisted he was an atheist.
My dad sat stoically beside my mother that night as the service progressed, showing no signs of being ready to turn his life over to Christ. I fought discouragement and continued to pray.
Then the lights went down and ushers made their way down the aisle to light the candles of the first parishioner in each row. Those parishioners then turned and lit the candle of the next person in the row, and so on until everyone held a lit candle.
As I waited, I glanced toward my parents and realized my ever-practical father must have decided the process was going much too slowly, for he suddenly fished his cigarette lighter out of his pocket and started lighting candles. Within minutes he had lit every candle at his end of the pew and was reaching over to the people in the pew in front of us to start on theirs.
Fighting humiliation, I closed my eyes and felt the sting of unexpected tears as I realized he was simply trying to be helpful. I heard a couple of chuckles in nearby rows, but no one said anything until the usher arrived at our pew. With the glow from his candle illuminating his face, the smiling man thanked my father for his assistance. Dad returned his smile and assured him he was glad to be of help, and the gracious usher moved on.
It was nearly fifteen years later before the last “holdout” in our family responded to the loving call of his heavenly Father. At eighty-eight years of age, less than one week before his death in October 1999, my beloved father received Jesus as his Savior—and then promptly went home to be with Him.
I have thought of that Christmas Eve so many times over the last couple of decades, and both marveled and rejoiced at God’s mercy and faithfulness. That candlelit evening—though several of those candles were lit with a cigarette lighter—will always be one of my fondest memories.
About Kathi Macias: Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.