December 25, 2016
Driving home a barren country road early in the evening twenty-one years ago from the local village market, it was a cold, clear night. Rounding a sharp curve, one very bright star caught my eye. Knowing very well that this star was a planet, most likely Venus, however I could not help but be reminded of the Star of Bethlehem, lighting the way for the three Wise Men to find their way to Bethlehem, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It was Christmas Eve after all.
Two months earlier, life as I knew it ended quite suddenly, an accumulation of related events that cost me both my promising career and marriage. When you combine that with the medical crisis that nearly cost me my life, suffering still from several side effects to this day, I paid dearly for my youthful indiscretion. A payment I make every single day, and will until the day I die. Having renovated the farmhouse prior to moving in five years earlier, the first thing I did when the family moved out was to redecorate, removing any signs that a very troubled marriage once lived there.
I had spent Christmas Eve hanging new mini blinds, after recently painting the two front rooms, color coordinating both living rooms, one a light green, the other light blue. I had no problem hanging the blinds in the green room, however, when I got to the blue room, I needed a really small drill bit, but could not find one. By the time I realized I did not have the bit needed to finish the job, I knew the local hardware store (different village in the opposite direction, but the same five-mile distance away) would be closed on a normal workday, let alone Christmas Eve.
After renovating the farmhouse before moving in, and during the entire twelve years I lived there, I ended up with a small stockpile of nuts and bolts and odds and ends down in the basement, my own mini hardware store. However, being a life-long neat-freak, a perfectionist, and in the throes of becoming very obsessive-compulsive, I knew very well where all my drill bits were; in the metal case the DeWalt cordless drill came in. But knowing very well where all my bits were did not keep me from searching out that elusive bit all night long.
As the evening was nearing midnight, I’m thinking to myself, talking to God, wishing that I had just one small drill bit. I probably bought that drill when I first started working on the house, so I had owned it at least for five years. By 11:30, I’m thinking I would give anything to have one very small drill bit. Then, at 11:45, fifteen minutes before Christmas officially began, I had the bright idea of looking underneath the cardboard backing that came inside the DeWalt metal case. I owned that drill for many years, but never removed the cardboard packaging.
Underneath that cardboard, what did I found? No, it was not one very small drill bit. It was three very small drill bits, two shiny silver, and the other black. Were these newfound bits purely coincidental or someone’s present? Whenever I needed anything from the hardware store, I would buy extras. If I needed a couple of screws, I would buy a dozen or two. That’s how I built up my supply room in the basement. If I needed a small drill bit, I would buy three. I can understand how one bit might have fallen under the cardboard, but three of the same size. What are the odds on that happening?
What is somewhat peculiar about the bits were that they were two shiny silver, one black. What were the three gifts the Wise Men gave the baby Jesus? Gold, myrrh and frankincense. Myrrh is a natural gum that was used as perfume, incense and mixed as a drink, but was also as an embalming oil. John 19:38-39 tells us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea brought a 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes to wrap Jesus’ body in after his crucifixion.
Two good, one bad. Two shiny, one black. Whatever the case, at that time and place in my life, when I had lost everything that meant anything to me, I could not have received a better Christmas present than those three drill bits.
Steven H. Spring