By Frank Ball
On Christmas Eve when I was a kid, I found our latest edition of the Montgomery Ward catalog, which was big enough to use as a door stop. I flipped past the black-and-white printed pages of clothing, furniture, and farm implements and stopped to drool over all the color pictures of dolls, trucks, and games that I knew were too expensive to ever hold in my hands. I could only dream.
I dreaded going back to school after the holidays, because my friends would be talking about all the neat stuff they got. When they asked me what I got, what would I say? I looked at the picture of the yellow tractor with the front-end loader and imagined having it instead of my fingers to build roads in my sand pile. That’s what I would tell them I got, which wasn’t entirely a lie, was it? I did have the picture.
On Christmas morning, I poured the goodies from my homemade stocking into a shoe box. I ignored the apple, banana, and orange and searched through the hard candies. We never got candy at other times. Mother said it was bad for our teeth, but I knew we couldn’t afford candy except for this special occasion.
I was looking for a small toy, a puzzle, or a simple game. When I found the ball and jacks, I stuffed them into my pocket. The sack of marbles was more than I expected. Then I opened the wrapped presents. New socks and underwear, a plaid shirt, and a pair of hand-me-down bluejeans. Now I didn’t have to wear the ones with the knee patches.
Daddy was smiling when he handed me the last gift, which even had a ribbon and bow. I eagerly ripped off the paper and held the treasure: a King James Bible with my name stamped in gold. Every week, I proudly carried my Bible with me to church. I never opened it. I never read it. But it proved I knew about Jesus.
That Christmas was special, but it was nothing compared to the one that followed. The next year, my special gift was a big thick comic book that contained all the Bible stories. I read it so much that I wore the cover off, and that’s how I came to really know Jesus, how he came to Earth, died for my sins, and gave me life.
[Jesus said,] “Store your treasure in heaven, where it is safe from moths and rust and thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:20–21, from Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story