Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
It's Christmas time, and while I somewhat dread the thought of what gifts to buy for whom, there is nothing like choosing, wrapping, and giving a gift you know someone will love. Even the anticipation of waiting for the opening at Christmas adds enjoyment to the giving. Then the moment when the gift is placed in their hands, still wrapped, concealed, unknown - you know they're going to love it! The smiles of wondering as paper is torn, the surprise of recognition, the delight and even tears of gratitude. Then come the explanations of how the idea came to you, how long it took to find it, why you knew it would be perfect, how it expresses your love. It's as if you've just received a gift yourself with the giving. After all, "It's more blessed to give . . ."
But have you ever given a gift with the same preparation and expectation of appreciation, but was disappointed that your gift wasn't understood or recognized as uniquely chosen, or perhaps even how much it cost you? Has the moment of revelation when the treasure is opened brought disregard or even rejection?
So I wonder, sitting by the tree with my family on Christmas morning, is this anything like the giving by God of His Son? He knew the perfect gift, chose it, kept it hidden with anticipation for so long, waiting for the moment of giving with more love than is possible from a human heart. He knew how necessary but extravagant this gift would be - essential really. He had planned it for so long, waiting for the day when the veil would be torn open, the surprise of recognition, the delight and tears of gratitude. Then came the explanations of reminders from the prophets, how long He'd been planning for this day, why it's perfect and how it expresses His love.
But what of His unbearable pain when the receivers of the gift don't understand or recognize how uniquely chosen His gift is, or how much it cost Him, and disregard or even reject it? And is it possible that for many, this most Precious Gift remains still unopened, ignored because of too many other things to play with or activities to pursue, or maybe because no one has ever placed it in their hands and told them it was theirs to open?
How do we even know about giving gifts? How do we even understand the joy that gift-giving brings? It's because of Him. He gave first - everything in the world, and then more.
My lesson to put into practice this Christmas as I unwrap each gift: truly see the gift, understand what it meant to the giver, and express my gratitude. With some gifts it will be easy; with others I may need to look deeper to find their value. Even Mary didn't fully understand this gift she'd assisted in presenting to the world. It took years of treasuring these unfolding events in her heart - layers of unwrapping.
And I must remember that the exchange doesn't end with the opening of the gift. It's returned in gratitude to the giver, and beyond as the gift is used, worn, displayed, treasured. And the greatest expression of a gift received is when it actually changes a life.