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Christmas Eve Surrender

Winterin’ Insurance
November 27, 2022
Cowboys and Wimmenfolk
December 14, 2022

President Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said, "I have very often been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go". That reluctant, vulnerable confession of desperation rather summarizes the experience of my own eventual surrender to Jesus. Despite my mother's lead, I had fought Him for decades. One day, in His timing, I finally admitted that my ways were an utter failure and I yielded to His invitation. As I think on salvation stories of friends or acquaintances, I've never tired of hearing the unique and personal way God's grace brings people to salvation through faith-driven belief in His Son.


Christmas Eve Surrender

I'd been weeks huntin' winter work
Horseback-driftin’ from town to town
But there just weren't no jobs to be had
I was broke, hungry and mighty low down

Ridin' cross the silent prairie alone
It'd been snowin' off and on all day
I was bone chilled and feelin self-sorry
Another Christmas, just me and my gray

Long about sunset I rode into a small town
There weren't but a dozen buildings or so
No schoolhouse or church steeple did I see
But saloon windows threw an invitin' glow

Heat from that stove was mighty welcome
Ice began thawin', drippin' off my 'stache
I salivated food odors from another room
But I couldn't buy grub, bein' outta' cash

I looked around observin' the crowd
It wasn't rowdy or typical of a saloon
Fact is there were kids and ladies present
A'sudden, one started leadin’ out a tune

The whole crowed chimed in a'singin'
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay"
Mama'd taught me that song - back when

Some folks noticin' me gathered 'round
I hadn’t spoken to no one ‘til now
A kind lady put forth a cuppa hot coffee
I held it close warmin’ my hands and brow

A stooped man wearin' a black frock coat
Smiled, offerin' me his bony old hand
"Welcome son, I'm a circuit rider
I preach wherever there's demand"

"Normally, of course, this is a saloon
But this is Christmas Eve and all
So, you see, this is God's house tonight
And we're sure glad you answered His call"

"Do you know our dear Lord Jesus?"
He asked as kindly as could be
I confessed my mama had known Him
But I didn't think He knew me

The preacher crinkled his kind eyes
"Well son here's a plate of stew
Have a sit, and partake of it,
While I offer a suggestion for you"

"See, I'm trained to read folks quickly
And I can tell you're 'bout all in
You just eat, warm up and rest welcome
We don't care where you've been"

He walked away to preach his sermon
Describin' the story of Jesus' birth
Telling how God took on a man's body
Coming to save all souls here on earth

He said Jesus was born of a virgin
On a night purt' near like this one
In a small rural crossroads town where
Immanuel, God with us, had begun

There were folks of high and low rank
As I took in the happy, milling crowd
They were gathered to worship in a saloon
With bowed heads praisin' Jesus out loud

I rejoiced in my first full belly in weeks
Feelin' peaceful and warm inside and out
Seems Mama and these folks had the answer
This night was bustin'-up my Jesus doubt

Mama had tried learnin' me of Jesus but
He seemed across a river with no bridge
It was like she was sendin’ smoke signals now
I was finally reading sign from that ridge

Something strange stirred in my heart
I felt an inner strength - an existence
As if a Spirit had come to dwell in me
Replacing my life-long Jesus-resistance

I humbled my pride, my ways hadn't worked
Feelin' my knees give, I heard as I hit the floor
My heart blurtin' out I was a sinner needin' Jesus
As my repentance and sins began to pour
I decided right there to try 'n walk worthy
To turn my stinkin', sorry life around
I was gonna read Mama's Bible she left me
Seems I'd found work after all in this  town

I reckon God brought me to this saloon
On this partic'lar Christmas Eve
For these folks to help set me free
Glad to meet you, Lord Jesus, I believe

Copyright 2022 Rik Goodell
© 2022. All rights reserved

This warm, comfy and inviting painting is by Jack Sorenson. I am grateful for his permission to post his art here alongside my poem.

To see more of his work, go to his website:

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