Say to the captives, “Come out,” and to those in darkness, “Be free!” (Isa. 49:9)

“Christmas isn’t hard for me anymore,” Jimmy said, running his hand through his hair. “I’m twenty-seven months clean and living for Jesus—not drugs.” We were standing in a food pantry in the inner city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. I’d asked Jimmy if he was looking forward to Christmas this year.

“I grew up hearing about Jesus. I knew the story. I knew why He came. But it didn’t help me when the street came calling for me. Once you’re into drugs and drugs into you, well, ain’t nothing gonna help you but Jesus. And He helped me, yes He did. He gave me Isaiah 49:9 as my life verse. He made it real for me.”

I knew Isaiah 49 well enough to know it was about the promised Messiah and all He’d accomplish for His people. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of verse 9.

“You got any idea what it’s like to hear the words, ‘Captive, come out!’ and for those living in darkness, ‘Be free!’? I heard them twenty-seven months ago. And I’ll tell you how I stay free,” he said, putting his arm on my shoulder. “I get to speak those words every day to men coming off the street. I love ’em. I serve ’em. I tell ’em what Jesus told me. Then I get to watch Him do it all over again.”

Do something different this Christmas: Give to one person what Jesus has given you.

Thaddeus Barnum is the author of the devotionals Real IdentityandReal Love(WPH), as well as a pastor in Connecticut.