We light this candle as a symbol of Christ our Hope…

It wasn’t busy when Josh and I stepped into the restaurant. Only a few tables held diners. The Christmas music playing through the speakers in the ceiling covered most of the conversation.

We waited to be seated for a long time. So long, in fact, that Josh banged on the counter with his fist a couple of times in impatience. I placed my hand over his and shook my head to communicate my disapproval. I told him someone would most certainly see us in a few minutes.

The only employee I could see was a young girl. She came in and out of the kitchen several times with a bit of a frazzled look upon her face. She moved extremely fast but remained professional. It soon became obvious to me she was taking care of all of the tables that held customers. One of those customers caught her attention and pointed to us at the front counter. They’ve been standing there a long time, he told her. She nodded her understanding but kept moving. I raised my hand in silent thanks to the man who had advocated for us.

She appeared again, wiping her hands on her apron, and apologized for our wait. Just two?, she asked. I nodded yes and Josh happily followed her to the booth nearest the kitchen. I gave her credit for strategic thinking. Sitting us close to the food meant fewer steps for her. Smart girl.

When she brought our drinks to the table, I asked her if she was working alone. She affirmed my suspicion and we talked back and forth just for a moment before she went back to work. She worked hard. She took good care of her people. She did all she could to ensure their dining experience was positive.

After Josh and I had enjoyed our food, I felt this stirring inside my heart.

It was a nudge from the Holy Spirit reminding me of how I sometimes feel like I work really hard and no one notices. Reminding me of how far I’ve come in recognizing the affirmation that flows from the love of Jesus. Reminding me of how much more hope I have about my life and about my circumstances because I live in a grace-filled relationship with my Creator.

I live with hope because I know that I am fully known by Jesus Christ. He sees me, loves me, and equips me to walk through my days with the ability to share the hope I have in Him with others. With that hope, I need not worry about human affirmation. I need not concern myself with the call of the world. Oh, I get tangled up in sometimes. Of course, I do. But when that happens, I know – because of the hope I have in Christ – that I can run to Him and be renewed in His deep affection for me.

I appreciated the reminder from the Holy Spirit that I am known and loved. And I wanted to share the hope that lives in me with that young woman taking care of so much. I decided to do so with a monetary gift. As I left the restaurant, I glanced back into the window just in time to see her hold up the receipt and share the knowledge of her gift with one of the kitchen staff. She then turned and exited the kitchen and walked back to the computer to input what she’d received. And the smile on her face was one that radiated hope. Peace.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.