This time next week we will be smack dab in the middle of the giving and receiving of gifts. Some of those gifts will paint wide grins on happy faces, while others will … well … you know.
Like most of you, as a kid I couldn’t wait to tear into my presents. Ribbons and wrapping sailed through the air followed by tissue paper, bows, and box lids. I couldn’t wait to see what was inside. The anticipation was almost as good as the actual unwrapping.
Now that I’m all grown up (so to speak) the focus of my anticipation has been redirected. I can hardly wait to see the paper fly soon after my grandchildren receive their gifts. I know I will be overwhelmed by pure joy once again.
All of this anticipation has caused me to wonder whether or not God had a hard time containing His excitement before giving His gift to the world. After all, that page in your Bible separating the Old and New Testaments represents four hundred years! That’s a long time to wait for an unwrapping.
God certainly knew we needed His gift. Surely, He understood there were some who knew enough to want it. Yet, even though His gift met a need and fulfilled a desire, God gave us Jesus out of pure love.
If my grandchildren took my gifts and threw them in the trash without even opening them, I’d be devastated by their disregard. On the other hand, if after opening them they believed my gifts were neither needed nor wanted, I’d be sad. But worst of all, if after opening them and realizing their value, they handed them back to me feeling they hadn’t earned them, we’d have to have a talk.
I’m fairly certain that many of you reading this have opened God’s gift and received Jesus. You want Him more than anything. You understand exactly how much you need Him. I knew those things too, even as a teenager. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally understood just how much God loves me and wants the very best for me. I don’t have to earn His love. It’s already mine. Is that hard for you to believe too?
My grandchildren do not have nearly enough money to repay me for the gifts I’ve purchased for them. Neither are any of us able to repay God for the gift of Jesus. All I want from my five young ones at Christmastime are giant smiles, humongous hugs, and spontaneous thank-you’s. I’m eager to witness a display of joy and affection that prove they know without a doubt that my love for them is real, genuine, and free of charge. When they grasp that kind of unconditional love, they will be able to more clearly recognize and accept God’s love for them. Only then can they begin to appreciate Jesus’ grace and celebrate their intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit. It’s God’s love, the grace of Jesus, and the fellowship with the Holy Spirit that create a bond that will always help them stay on a path that is good for them.
Even when my grand kiddos are less than grand with me, they know I love them too much to let them slide very far. The same is true with God. He loves us too much to overlook our mistakes. He will do whatever it takes to keep us on a path that is good for us – one that keeps us near Him. Once we experience His presence, we never want to leave. We want everyone we love to experience Him too.
With that in mind, sometime this week, let’s all stop for a just a pair of minutes and give the gift that may seem a bit over-the-top nowadays. Let’s give our time to someone in need of a few giant smiles, humongous hugs, and spontaneous thank-you’s. Then, be ready to do what may be even more difficult – let somebody love you!
I’m pretty sure the Great Gift-Giver would enjoy watching that kind of gift exchange.
“God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.”Titus 2:11-14, The Message