It’s all about the gifts, right?
What Christmas presents have you bought? What Christmas presents do you expect to receive? Let’s be honest. Christmas is really all about the give and get. We can say it is about Christ’s birth, but who knows what day that really happened on. We can talk about family traditions, the eggnog, the fables like Frosty and Rudolph we tell our kids, the lights, the songs, and the memories, but what makes Christmas, Christmas all comes down to the gifts.
As parents we love the expression of love that goes into getting things for our kids. As kids, the eagerness with which we write our wish lists turns into the anticipation of that day drawing ever closer which turns into the eager joy of unwrapping those boxes which turns into… the let down of realizing that this gift isn’t really all that great after all. How many days until my birthday? Time to start making a new list.
Whether given or received, what are some of the most memorable Christmas gifts you remember? For me, one of each quickly come to mind. My favorite toy growing up was my GI Joe Hydrofoil. I was probably about eight when my sister and I were creating our Christmas lists with the help of a wide eyed perusal through the JC Penny catalog. While I never truly considered myself poor, even at this young age I had somehow learned to be “budget conscious” in creating my list. I did not want to ask for anything I knew my parents could not afford. So in writing my list I meant to put the GI Joe Hydro Sled which probably cost about 8-10 dollars. Instead I accidentally wrote down the Hydrofoil which was closer to the 70-80 dollar range. When Christmas came and I opened that box, I didn’t know if I should be horrified at the realization of my mistake or overjoyed at receiving something far greater than I had dared to ask for.
Another memorable Christmas gift was one I gave my dad a years or two later. It was Christmas Eve and I felt a wee bit guilty as I was wrapping up my presents. It seemed that I had spent a bit less on dad than I did on mom or my sister. It was far too late to go buy something more and I didn’t have the money even if I could (all extra cash went to the purchase of baseball cards). So I relied on the ever handy expedient of making him another gift. I can’t say I am all that great with origami. Neither can I say that my dad was all that into spaceships. But an origami spaceship that took my all of five minutes to think up, design, and build was the “extra” present dad got to unwrap that year. I was a bit embarrassed by this cheap, thoughtless gift when his first response was. “what is it?” and when I saw the humor he tried so hard to hide as I did my best to describe the various parts and amenities of his spaceship. A few days later and for weeks afterwards, however, I saw that same spaceship proudly displayed on his desk. He valued and used a gift that even in the giving I felt was unworthy.
As Christmas comes and then passes us by, let us not forget these lessons that those childhood Christmases taught me. The Father is willing and able to give you far more than you would even dream to ask. He also will treasure and put to good use even the smallest of what you offer to Him. It is true that we can never outgive God. It is also true that we will never be able to out gratitude Him.
So on His behalf, and on my own, I want to say thank you. For all those who have given time in prayer for me, Turkey, and the refugees I am blessed to serve, thank you. This is the greatest and often the most thankless of gifts. We will never know this side of heaven how God has used your prayers to strengthen and protect and spiritually encourage me. For those who have given words of encouragement, thank you. I cannot begin to count the number of times when a message, or a text, or an email was exactly what I needed to hear at just the right time in this stressful and often lonely venture. For those who have given financially, thank you as well. I would not be able to be here giving of my own time and energy to serve the least of these if not for the generosity of so many back home. God is treasuring and using all that you give whether big or small in ways beyond what you can imagine and through you He is blessing me far beyond what I ever would have dared to ask. Thank you and Merry Christmas!