See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
Little five-year-old Lotte had to pee. She had to pee some kind of bad. Unfortunately she was locked in the Spielzimmer, the playroom, with the other children her age. She jiggled the locked door handle. Her head full of red curls bounced as she jumped up to try and peer out the window. She called, but no one came.
Nestled under the Alps in the heart of Bavaria, the imposing four-story Catholic orphanage in Augsburg, Germany was a large place. To the children living there, it was huge. Unfortunately, in the years after World War II there were far more orphans than there were nuns to shepherd them. The nuns did the best they could, but sometimes they needed to be in two or three places at once. They resorted to the only option they had, locking the children in a room for a moment, for their own safety, while they moved about the orphanage.
The number one no-no, as poor little Lotte knew, was to wet her pants. She desperately pulled on the door, but it remained locked. She peeked out the window. There was no sign of a nun’s black habit swooshing and rustling back down the hall.
So sweet little Lotte did the only thing she could. She broke a windowpane out of the door and, standing on tiptoes, reached through to unlock the deadbolt. Little red curls bouncing, she raced off to the bathroom. Lotte crept slowly back from the bathroom but there, standing over the broken glass, was her nun, hickory switch in hand. And poor Lotte had her bottom spanked.
But five-year-olds are resilient, and because it was the holiday time of year, Lotte quickly forgot about her punishment. For it was almost St. Nicholas Day! In Bavaria, St. Nicholas comes on December 6th. For the children of the orphanage this was a truly special day. It was the only time all year they received candy and toys. All the children, Lotte included, couldn’t stop chattering with excitement as the day drew near.
The morning of December 6th dawned. Lotte could almost taste the candy. She hoped St. Nicholas would bring her a new doll. The children gathered, and the nuns began to pass out the gifts that St. Nicholas had left. Finally, it was Lotte’s turn. She was handed her gift and eagerly tore it open. She stared in shock, for St. Nicholas had left her the hickory switch she had been spanked with a few days earlier, with one single tiny piece of candy tied to it. Tears welled in her eyes. This couldn’t be. She looked about her as the other children squealed with glee with their candy and toys. Her heart broke, and unable to control her weeping, she stumbled back to her bed, and eventually cried herself to sleep.
Eventually, Lotte, who in truth had never really liked that name, would leave the orphanage in Bavaria and come to the United States. She would begin to go by her full first name, Charlotte. Every year she would embrace Christmas with all her heart, having known what it was like to miss it. Oh yes, and one more thing, eventually she would marry me.
Not the happy feel good Christmas story you were hoping for? Does your heart ache for sweet little Lotte? Think about this: How does our Lord and Father, who loves us so very much that He, in the body of Jesus Christ gave His life for us, feel when our sins entangle us and bring about our punishment? For sweet little Lotte, it was a separation from the joys of Christmas, and a valuable lesson learned. For us, without accepting the loving sacrifice of Jesus, it can mean eternal separation from the love of God. He offers His love fully. Please accept His gift.
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Kevin Spencer lives in Tennessee with his beautiful wife Charlotte and grandson Caleb. He is a staff writer for ChristianDevotions.us. A former prodigal son, Kevin is now trying to use the gifts God gave him, and by the grace of God has a life far better than he ever deserved.