My husband and I, along with three other couples from church participated in a Toy Run. We rode motorcycles to Asheboro where the Toy Run was originating. Everyone was asked to bring a toy or make a monetary donation to the Baptist Children’s Homes. Once we got to Asheboro, we found ourselves in a group of over 2100 bikes. All the toys were loaded into a tractor trailer truck. At exactly 1:30, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus started out on their bikes and everyone fell in behind them heading to Thomasville.
It was amazing seeing the number of people involved. After the first bike left, it took our group 15 minutes before we could pull out and there were many bikes still waiting behind us. Along the way there were people parked at different locations watching. It was as if we were in a parade as people waved and took pictures.
When we got to the Children’s Homes, we went to the gym. The bleachers were filled and people stood all around. The gifts were separated into small piles on the gym floor with the name of a child beside each pile. When the children came in they found their name beside their pile and sat down. I’m sure they were told ahead of time to wait until they were told to open their presents because they all sat down quietly. I did see one little boy eagerly peeking into bags as he slowly scooted around the wrapped gifts.
Someone told the Christmas story and people involved with the Children’s Homes were introduced. Then finally, what the kids were waiting for, finally happened. They were told they could open their presents.
As I watched the children, I was filled with so many different emotions. It’s always exciting seeing children opening their presents. One little girl was thrilled to get a pink bathrobe. She held it up as high as her little arms could reach, struggling to determine the top from the bottom. One of the workers came over and helped her put it on. The little girl kept it on as she then turned back to open up some more gifts.
The children ranged in ages from 15 month old twins, to teenagers. Even though it was fun to see the kids having fun, it also broke my heart. The area of the gym floor the kids were in was roped off. We could watch from behind the rope line but I wanted so badly to go hug on those kids.
Of course we weren’t told the situation the kids were in. We didn’t know how long the kids had been there. We didn’t know if their family had any contact with them. So many questions were running through my mind. Having my own children and grandchildren, I can’t imagine not having them around me at Christmas. To see my grandchildren laugh and squeal with delight as they excitedly open their presents brings such joy. And being able to hold them in my lap means the world to me.
But as I stood there on the wrong side of the rope, I just wanted to cry.
The crowd was thinning out all around us as the children finished opening their gifts. Our group went back to our bikes to prepare to leave. We had a great day. We had our picture made with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. We had pictures with a lot of bikes in the background. It was a really nice day for a motorcycle ride. When we left the Children’s Homes we went to eat supper and then headed back home and to Sunday night service at our church. We had a lot of laughs and had joked around.
But I couldn’t forget the kids. And I keep thinking about that rope. It wasn’t so much the physical barrier as the emotional barrier I was feeling. My heart went out to them, but all I had been able to do was provide a toy. No opportunity to hold them, love them, protect and care for them.
There was once another child that received gifts from strangers who travelled a long way. That child was around two years old by the time the caravan of wise men found their way to Jesus. They presented their gifts and worshipped at His feet. Then they returned to their own country.
We aren’t told if those wise men were aware of the boundary that was between the Christ Child and everyone else. Angels had sung about Him. Shepherds had ran to the stable to worship Him. The wise men travelled many miles to seek Him out. But did anyone really understand that there was so much more to the Child born that Christmas morning?
Then I think of the procession, a parade of types. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. People were waving and cheering. I imagine that in today’s time, people would have their cell phones out taking pictures.
But there was still a barrier.
There was another procession. This time people were shouting and jeering as they watched Jesus stumbling under the weight of a cross He was trying to carry up Mt. Calvary. Then on that cross, Jesus died.
But the best part is that He rose again! He broke the chains of sin, death, hell and the grave! And now He is seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. And He is looking down from heaven and sees every person. He sees everything we do.
He sees us unwrapping treasures the world offers. He sees us struggling to decide by ourselves the right side from the wrong side of things. He sees us roping Him off, keeping Him at an arm distance away, while He longs to love on us, hold us, care for us and protect us from an eternal separation from Him.
What side of that rope are you on?