On a Christmas Errand


For years I had sent out packages of clothing at Christmas time to families whose need I had read about in a New York newspaper. I had also included some spiritually oriented reading material.

One holiday season my husband, Will, stopped to watch my preparations. “You’re spending a lot of money on postage,” he noted. “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if I drove into the city with the packages? Our station wagon would hold a lot of them.”

I was excited at the idea! If he did that, I could send heavy winter clothing, too expensive to mail, and also food. Happily I went about gathering all I could, while Will got maps of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, and began to locate and schedule the stops on his route.

Early the day before Christmas, Will and our teenage boys loaded the station wagon, packing it to the roof. The day was cold and grey, but the only concession to the weather Will would make was to wear a cap. He held an office job and rarely spent time out of doors, yet he was confident that he’d be warm enough.

As I watched him back the loaded car out of the driveway, I was assailed by sudden doubts. What if the car broke down? What if he got lost? Or chilled? He was going into some of the most crime-ridden sections of the city—what if he were assaulted?

Turning back toward the house, I noticed that snow was lazily drifting down—an added worry. I went into the house and knelt down to pray for Will’s safe journey. “Dear Heavenly Father,” I began, “Will has gone on an errand for me—.” Then I stopped. I had the sudden impression that I had said something wrong. The thought came, “No, he has gone on an errand for Me.”

I was taken back by the thought. I had been thinking too highly of myself in assuming that Will had gone just for me, and that his safety depended on my prayers. At that moment, I realized that delivering the packages was his service to God, and he would be protected.

I got up, determined not to worry about Will any more, and went on with my holiday preparations. The snow that had begun so lazily in the morning was a blizzard by lunch time. In the afternoon I tried to walk to a nearby store but had to turn back because of the drifts. If they were impassable here, what must the roads be like in the city?

Dinner time came. Still no word from Will. He had said that he’d call me. My resolve not to worry was getting harder and harder to maintain. In the evening, when our sons came in from shoveling snow, one of them asked, “Isn’t dad home yet? Where can he be?”

“Mom,” said the other, “he can’t still be delivering packages at this hour. No one would let him in. I don’t want to worry you, but—.”

“He’ll be all right,” I assured the boys, but I was beginning to panic in spite of myself. Resolutely I worked at wrapping gifts, trying to ignore the kitchen clock which was now creeping toward eleven P.M.

Then one of the boys yelled with relief, “Mom, dad’s car is turning into the driveway!”

Excitedly, I grabbed a coat and went to meet him. As Will got out of the car, I noticed that he wasn’t cold and exhausted as I had pictured he would be. He looked as though he had been outdoors for a pleasant half-hour, instead of just having spent fifteen hours on snow-clogged streets, driving around abandoned cars and lugging packages up unshoveled walks.

“I didn’t have a bit of trouble,” he assured me, “and I found every family.”

That evening I gave thanks for my husband’s safe journey and for my increased understanding of the Lord’s ways.

Sister Selover is a member of the Virginia Beach, Virginia, Ward.