Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Angel

I was walking down the plank for the hundredth time.

"You are doing a great job, Miss Cheri!" Mister Baity our pastor was saying to me.

My brother, Chris, had been in a car accident that nearly took his life a few months before. He was four at the time. I was six.

The hospital had sent Chris home to die. "If he lives he will be a vegetable," they said.

Unacceptable diagnosis for a small boy.

I will never forget the day we drove Chris home from the hospital. We lived in a very small white house with a large front yard. We drove in the driveway and it looked as if the whole town was standing in our yard. (The population of our town was less than 1,000 people). I didn't cry when I saw all those people then, but I do now every time I remember them standing there with such a warm welcome for us.

Now I realize that they were our prayer warriors and had come to bless us with their support!

We walked in our kitchen that day to find enough food that would last for a month! There was not one spare inch on the countertops or table. Every kind of casserole, cake, pie, bread imaginable covered everything. My little girl eyes could hardly believe how our small town was demonstrating their love to our family.

Mr. Baity was my real hero though. Forty some years ago, physical therapy was a new idea in the medical arena. Mr. Baity was our pastor, not a doctor, but I believe with all my heart that the Lord inspired him with wisdom. He built physical therapy equipment for Chris (I admit, it looked a bit crude) and then assigned the 4H Club to come in shifts to help Chris with excercise treatments that Mr. Baity had created. Everyone worked hard. After a few months Chris was walking and talking again.

All of this took lots of time and attention away from me. No one really noticed........not even me at the time......but Mr. Baity noticed, so he came to me and requested that I be the Christmas angel in the Christmas program that year. I would have to agree to practice........every day. I would have to walk down a board that he had made and practice making my announcement. I would have the only speaking part in the whole production. It would be very important that I got it just right.

I agreed to this important assignment. I met Mr. Baity every day at the church (which was right across the street from our house) and walked down the plank and said my lines. He would nod in approval, his red mustache twitching, blues eyes spiced with twinkle and say, "Let me see you do it again!"

And then, "You are going to be just perfect for this part!"

I was the only small child that was given a part in the Nativity production that year. The youth group carried out the rest of it. The BIG kids.

It wasn't until later, much later, long after Mr. and Mrs. Baity had left our small town that I really understood how very special Mr. Baity was and exactly what he had done for me. He saw that I needed some special attention because Chris was requiring so much from the rest of my family. He saw my need.......

Recognizing other's needs, then praying for solutions, then working with compassion to meet those needs.....that was Mr. Baity's way of life.

I have a picture of me in my little angel costume descending from heaven (the board was shrouded in cloud material) to make my announcement that Christ had come..........The picture is so faded.......but there is a smile on my face that really captures what is still in my heart.........

I continue to have a strong desire to be like the real Christmas Angel that shouted out the message in the night to sleeping shepherds while the glory of God filled the skies........the Good News........."He has come! He has come! The Savior of the World..........come to save lost souls!"

I think I will do some practicing on that announcement this morning!

"Glory to God in the Highest! Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men!!!!"

Often times it is not in the shouting, but in the doing and Mr. Baity was for our family. Having compassion, loving and giving.........I think I will practice his example.......and that will take a lifetime!

Joy to the World!


Paula (SweetPea) said...

I love this, Cheri. What a very precious act of love from your pastor...not only what he did for Chris but also for you. Precious!

Joyful said...

Thanks for sharing this story Cheri. It makes me want to know - are you still in contact with Mr. Baity? How is Chris? What a beautiful testimony of giving of oneself and seeing the needs of others. Mr. Baity definitely had his Father's eyes!

Love & prayers,
PS. Thanks for your comment on my blog - you just continue to bless me. Your friendship is a treasure - YOU are a treasure! I'm so thankful the Lord allowed us to reconnect this summer!

Cheri Bunch said...

Hi Friends!

Thank you for your comments.

I don't know what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Baity. I am sure that they have most likely passed on by now. They were older when I knew them. Precious people, they were for sure. Imagine the rewards of that man!!!! I only remember the things he did for our family! I am pretty sure that he heard the words, "Well done" from our Lord when he reached his eternal destination.

Chris still suffers some from some brain damage and struggles physically as well. He is well enough to live on his own, but life has offered him many challenges and continues to do so.

From the time of the accident it was never expected that he would live. We have learned so much from having him in our lives. We feel very fortunate that he is still with us.


Laura said...

Oh, I got goose bumps when I read this story, Cheri! Wow. What a miracle for your brother, and what a precious gift your Mr. Baity was. As I work on a rehab unit, I understand the challenges both Chris and you all, his family, must face every day. I love what you say about how God has taught you so much through your brother. You have such a spirit of victory, Cheri! I just love to come over here because I am always encouraged.

Hope your holiday season is sweet so far...

Renee Swope said...

What a beautiful story!! You are so much like sweet Mary who treasured "these things" and now ponder them in your heart. Mr. Baity, like Jesus saw needs, noticed a child others may have looked over, and made a way for Chris where it seemed there was "no way."

I love the details you shared and love that God gave your family a miracle through Chris' recovery.

Thank you so much for your sweet e-card today! You bless me.


Laura said...

Thank you, Cheri, for my e-cards! They were a beautiful pick-me-up on this rainy morning!