The Christmas of 2006 we were homeless. We didn’t have keys. Not to a car, not to a home. We’d flown halfway around the world, leaving behind a ministry we toiled over. Much, particularly in our hearts, lay in ruins.
Some friends owned Sabine Creek Ranch, and on their grounds stood a barn. A tiny apartment was tucked inside a horse and cow barn, flanked by a red caboose and hundreds of acres of Texas pasturelands. We’d never been there before, so we followed directions at night, making plenty of wrong turns.
When we found the place, we drove a borrowed car over the cattle guard toward what would be our home for a month.
String lights illuminated a small porch, a window and a door in the corner of an aluminum-sided barn. We hefted large pieces of luggage to the apartment. I cannot tell you how bone-tired I was. I hoped to drop my bags, crawl into bed, and cry myself to sleep.
But when we opened the door, Love welcomed us.
The place, usually completely unfurnished in the winter, had been decked out with just the right amount of beds, couches and tables. The pantry burst at the seams. We had dishes and garbage cans, and cups and forks and food. But even more, we had a Christmas tree.
Friends had hijacked the place, decorating it for Christmas. Cookies preened on the table.
I will never, ever forget that Christmas. We had so little. Even our relationships with each other felt raw and frayed. We felt the painful burden of failure after leaving France’s shores as “going home” missionaries. But we were loved, so terribly and wonderfully loved.
Christmas felt right there, in a barn. We heard the nickering of horses, the meowing of kittens, the clop of hooves against the barn floor. Chickens and goats and cows served as a holy object lesson of the incarnation.
Although we were warm and clothed, we understood more keenly the Savior’s homelessness, how He left the splendor of heaven for the sodden earth. We experienced barnyard life alongside him, without much to call our own except our Heavenly Father and our tired, yet sweet family.
Jesus was enough, that Christmas. And He will always be enough.