The Little Match Girl

Yet What Can I Give Him? Give My Heart!

Have you read the Christmas fairy tale, The Little Match Girl? As you reflect on this Christmas season, read the famous story below:

The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson

It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Evening came, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, wearing no hat and no shoes, was walking through the streets. Her bare feet were quite red and blue from the cold. In an old apron she carried several packages of wooden matches, and she held a box of them in her hand. She had tried so hard to sell them, but no one had bought any from her all day long. And despite her ragged appearance, no one had given her a cent. Shivering with cold and hunger, she walked along. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a wonderful smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s Eve.

In a corner alley formed by two houses, she sat down and drew up her little feet under her. She was getting colder and colder, but she didn’t dare go home. For she had sold no matches, nor earned a single cent, and her father was so quick to get angry – especially since he had lost his job (and her dear mother had died when she was just an infant). Besides, it was so cold at home, for they had nothing over them but a faulty roof through which the wind whistled. And the walls of their little wooden shack had cracks that had been stuffed with straw and rags.

Her hands were almost dead with cold. Oh, how much one little wooden match might warm her! If she could only take one from the box and rub it against the brick wall and warm her hands. She drew one out. Scratch! How it sputtered and burned! It made a warm, bright flame, like a little candle, as she held her hands over it; but it gave a strange light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she were sitting before a great iron stove with shining brass knobs and a brass cover. How wonderfully the fire burned! How comfortable it was! The girl stretched out her feet to warm them, but then the little flame went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the burnt match in her hand.

She struck a second match against the wall. It burned brightly, and when the light fell upon the wall it became transparent like a thin veil, and she could see through it into a room. On the table a snow-white tablecloth was spread, and on it were beautiful dinner plates and shiny silver utensils. A big roast goose steamed gloriously on a platter, stuffed with bread crumbs, apples and raisins. And then to her amazement, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled along the floor with a knife and fork in its breast, right over to the little girl! But then the second match went out, and she could see only the thick, cold wall.

She lit a third match. Then she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree she had ever seen! It was much larger and much more beautiful than the ones she had seen in the fancy store windows. Thousands of lights twinkled on the green branches, and happy ornaments seemed to smile down upon her. The little girl reached both her hands out toward them. But then the third match went out. Yet somehow the twinkling Christmas lights seemed to float right through the wall and perch way up high above her. Now she saw them as bright stars in the sky. One of them fell down, though, forming a long line of fire.

“Uh-oh, someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old Grandmother, the only person who had ever really loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that whenever a star fell down a soul went up to God. The little girl wondered who it might be that was making their way into eternity.

She rubbed a fourth match against the wall. It became bright again, and in the glow her dear old Grandmother stood clear and shining, kind and lovely. “Grandmother!” cried the child. “Oh, please take me with you! For I know you will disappear when the match burns out. You will vanish like the warm stove, the wonderful roast goose and the big beautiful Christmas tree!”

And then the girl struck the whole bundle of matches, for she wanted so badly to keep her grandmother with her. But this time the matches burned with such a glow that it became brighter than daylight! Grandmother had never been so grand and beautiful. Then the Grandmother walked forward and lovingly took the little girl into her arms. And then both of them flew in brightness and joy together, way up above the earth, very, very high. And suddenly the little girl realized that in this new place there was neither cold, nor hunger, nor fear. For they were with God!

But back on earth – in the corner of that cold, dark alley, leaning against the wall, sat the little girl with red cheeks, with her eyes closed tightly and with a sweet smile on her face.  For you see, she had frozen to death on that last evening of the old year. The New Year’s sun rose upon a pale little figure. The child sat there, stiff and cold, holding the matches, of which one bundle was almost completely burned up.

“Aw, the poor little thing was trying to warm herself,” the people said as they gathered around the entrance to the alley. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen (and now saw), and how happily she had gone with her dear old Grandmother into the bright New Year.

The Little Match Girl in this famous fairy tale clearly represents the people that Jesus called “the least of these.”  In Matthew 25, Christ identifies them as the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the sick and yes, the PRISONER.  They are the outcasts – the forgotten ones.  Surely these folks have done something wrong/bad or simply been lazy/careless to have ended up in their situations.  Why should we CARE about them??? After all, does even GOD care about “riff-raff” like these people?  Did God care about the Little Match Girl?  Does he LOVE and CARE about the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the sick, and yes, even the PRISONER???  Our Lord Jesus made it very plain that God DOES love and care for each of the least of these.

So what can you and I give God?  We can give Him our HEARTS. For when we love and care for “the least of these”, we are loving on JESUS!  Won’t you pray and then give whatever end-of-year gift you can give to GraceInside (Virginia’s State Prison Chaplain Service)?  We have 33 Chaplains, serving in all 42 Virginia state correctional facilities, ministering to the spiritual needs of nearly 24,000 incarcerated men and women. What a mission field! What a difference YOU can make! Please, dear friend, give Him your HEART.

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