The car was packed with Christmas presents we had so lovingly gathered: a wooden board with a Bible verse painstakingly burned into it by our son, something “crazy quilted” with scraps of fabric from our young daughter to her Grandmother, and new things I had found at garage sales or clearance sales during the year. The gas money had been counted to the penny: $48.03. In the 1980’s, that should get us home for Christmas.
We had so many needs for that $48, but going to N.C. from FL. seemed more important than any of them. We knew my dad would give us $20 toward the trip back–he always did–and just being with my parents for a few days meant we would eat well. Going to their home represented a time of leaning on parents again!
Christmas morning dawned beautiful and sunny. The chance of snow in eastern North Carolina wasn’t great but we had hoped. With children, gifts come first, so away to the tree we went. Mother and Daddy needed none of the presents we brought, but acted so glad to get everything. Daddy’s annual traditional gift was a $1 box of chocolate covered cherries, but he acted as pleased as if it was the first time he had gotten them!
It was now my turn. Mother handed me a card. When I opened it, I found it was a check made out for $1,000.00. I could not believe what I was seeing. Then, for the first time I ever remember, I burst into tears as the reality of her gift hit me. I can still see the memory of opening that card, and the wonderful gift from my folks, which we so desperately needed.
Undoubtedly you have a special Christmas you could tell about as well. For all of us at least one Christmas stands out above all others, when our joy was over the roof or emotions, like mine, could not be contained. Did you ever wonder how God felt the night Jesus was born? No, it wasn’t December 25, but the night had a date, and the Gift was given. Did God feel joy? Anguish at what would come? Did He celebrate as the angel announced the birth? What would it have been like for Mary and Joseph to watch as shepherds drew near to worship the tiny Babe who lay so miraculously in her arms?
Have you ever looked–really looked–at people as you pass, and see them smelly, cursing, acting in ways that are despicable to you, and then think that if you could save even some of them, you would give your son’s life? I have. I couldn’t. My love is not great like God’s love. What amazing, unfathomable love that would give the gift of your only Son to enemies! When my son was deployed, I used to hear people openly insulting the military, the men who were fighting, and I wanted to shout at them that MY son was out there, putting his life on the line so they could scream their obscenities. What a heart of love God has–for the whole world.
Do you care about that baby in the manger? Has it occurred to you that if He had not grown up and gone to the Cross, His birth would not be celebrated? He came for a purpose, He lived His purpose for His Father’s glory, and then was killed. Satan must have felt he had won. What must he have felt when his minions reported on that third day that Jesus was alive again? Did he fly to the tomb to see also? He must have ground his teeth that the Christ he had thought was dead was alive again! Appearing to so many, with testimony from witnesses all over Jerusalem, it could not be discounted.
So–what is the best gift you ever received? Well, if you believe that Jesus Christ was God, come in human flesh, and have accepted His gift of eternal life then you have definitely received the greatest gift that could ever be had. And what if you don’t believe yet? What is holding you back? The shepherds, when they heard the news, immediately said “Let us go..and see.” It was a step of faith for them. It needs to be a step of faith for anyone. If you haven’t taken it, please consider doing so. It is a gift that is being held out–just for you.
Thank You for the Christ-child, dear Father; for loving the world enough that You would send Your only Son, so that anyone–ANYONE–who believes on Him does not have to stand condemned, but can have eternal life. Thank You for the Cross, Lord. Thank You that all–ALL–our sins were nailed to it with a big stamp of “Paid In Full” for those who believe. Call our unsaved loved ones to You, please Lord, before it’s eternally too late for them. In Christ, Amen