An Offering by Valerie McGoldrick

“For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Back in 1999 John 3:16 became more real to me than at any other time in my life, and I can’t explain it without giving you the history behind it.

At 15 years old, my mom got pregnant with me. She married my dad and they were together for 2 years. My dad was an alcoholic.  I went to my dad’s every other weekend.  As I went to my dad’s, my mom partied, trying to fulfill all that she missed out on while being a wife and mother. She became addicted to drugs. At first she only used drugs when I was away, and then it filtered into her daily life: losing jobs, not having money for food, not having a place to live.

Subconsciously, I have blocked a lot out of my mind, like the time we lived in a car for 6 months. What I do remember is not wanting to be home, and not wanting to go to my Dad’s; always wanting to get away, live with someone else, stay as long as possible at a friend’s house or stay with family and never wanting to leave. I wanted to be with secure families who seemed to have it all together. Families who did fun things together, went on vacations together and LOVED each other.

Don’t get me wrong. My parents loved me in their crazy way. My grandfather wanted to raise me as my Mom’s sister, and she wouldn’t allow that. Her family even threatened to take me away from her, which after one time, finally caused her to go away, and when she came back she was a believer in Jesus Christ. She was saved. She struggled for a couple for a couple of years and eventually remarried. My dad had also remarried but was still an alcoholic. He missed out on big events in my life, disappointed me time and again. He told me he loved me, but his words and actions told me something different.

So what does a girl do when her father isn’t around? When her father isn’t there to show her love? She searches in all the wrong places. In the arms of boys and men who don’t care about you, tell you lies that you are special. Yes, my Mom was saved and started taking me to church. My step-father was a great man. Poor guy, I gave him his grey hair.  He loved me as his own, and at the time I didn’t understand that because I was already on the path of wanting someone to love me, to get out of the house and have a family, and live happily ever after.  It was going to be different for me.

Well, I got pregnant at 25, got married, and had three beautiful little girls. However, I also married an alcoholic. Not a mean alcoholic like my Dad. A quiet alcoholic. One you don’t realize until you are around them all the time, living with them. After 9 years, he left for another woman, and I thought my world fell apart. I thought he loved me.

During this time, I dived into the scriptures and would be up at night reading and praying.  Christmas was 3 months away—the sentimental holiday of a baby, motherhood, and family. However, on this first Christmas without a husband is when it hit me more than ever the reason God came into the world on that first Christmas. For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16. The famous verse in the Bible. The most-memorized verse. See, you can’t look at Christmas without understanding the reason He was born. He came to lay down His life, to grow up being rejected by His own people, to suffer in darkness and be forsaken by His Father. Knowing He would die. For me. For us. Jesus loves us so much that He willingly came into world to be the perfect sacrifice. As R.C Sproul puts it, “What we as sinners could not satisfy in an eternity of suffering in hell was satisfied by Christ in a short time.”

He bore the curse in our place but had no sin of His own. He did this so that we could have a relationship with Him and be with Him forever.  He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never stop loving us!  As I would look out into the ocean with my girls when they were little, I would tell them that Jesus loves them farther than their eye could see and deeper than the deepest depths of the ocean. Even more than I do.  So this Christmas, what I want most for us is to see His love for all of us that is far beyond our human ability, to delight in the gift of His Love He has for us!