Only 246 shopping days until Christmas!
Oh sweet glory, even the thought of having to do Christmas shopping right now gives me a hairy ache between my shoulder blades! Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those bah humbug folks; I really do love the Christmas season! The minute the turkey is off the Thanksgiving table I am decking the halls and singing Christmas carols! (Ok, so maybe the Christmas music really starts in October! Don’t judge!) There is however, one part of the Christmas season that gives me rampant anxiety: selecting just the right gifts for people. I adore GIVING gifts, but I AGONIZE over every purchase. What if they don’t like this? Is this her color? Would he be able to use this? Do they have one of these already?
Maybe it is because of this gift-giving-anxiety of mine that I drummed into my children from the earliest ages, no matter what the gift is, when you open it you will smile and thank the person who gave it to you. And I am not talking about some fake- looking, strained smile; I want to see teeth!
Sadly, this expectation has not always been followed. Take for example the Christmas that Aidan was five years old. There we were, all gathered around the tree. Gifts were being exchanged, good will and glad tidings were in abundance, and all gifts were being received with great excitement. You should know, we are THAT family that takes turns opening gifts one at a time. All eyes are on the person opening the gift and once opened, a minimum of five minutes will be spent exclaiming over the gift, talking about the gift, showing off the gift, and hugging all around. It takes us ALL DAY to open gifts! It was finally Aidan’s turn to open a gift and he tore into the wrappings with gusto and pulled out… a gift card. He turned it over once or twice, looked back through the wrapping paper as if he were missing something and then looked straight into the eyes of his uncle (who had purchased said gift card) and proclaimed, “THIS is NOT a gift!”
My mortification was swift and complete! What happened to graciousness? What happened to smile and say thank you? Come swiftly, Lord Jesus!
Fortunately, Aidan was cute, and his Uncle loves him beyond reason and thought the entire exchange was hilarious! It has actually become a running joke, continuing to this day, that whenever anyone in our family receives a gift card as a gift they loudly profess, “THIS is NOT a gift!”
You know, we do this a lot to God.
We open a gift that he has given us and we look at it in confusion, or we search for something MORE in the wrapping. THIS is NOT a gift!
How it must hurt our Father’s heart for him to witness our lack of gratitude. Where is the smile? Where is the Thank You?
Now before you begin to tell yourself that you don’t ever do this, let me point out the splinter in your eye while adjusting the enormously large log in my own. WE. DO. THIS. EVERY. DAY! Every single day our heavenly Father pours gifts out on our heads, and we accept them with the demeanor of a toddler in need of a nap…IF we even notice them at all!
Good morning! Here is your gift of another day to worship me and to live your life to the fullest.
Ugh. It’s morning.
I am sending you rain today because the ground is parched and my flowers need tending.
It is RAINING! Seriously! RAIN! I have too much to do to deal with rain!
I have provided a job for you.
I hate my job. The people here are the worst.
Your car will run this morning and get you to where you need to be.
Did you see his new car! Must be nice.
I have provided you with health, food, shelter; provisions in abundance.
I am not thin enough. My house is too small. I don’t have the things I want.
I have gifted you with the ability to teach.
I wish I could sing! Why couldn’t God give me the talent to sing?
I have given you a testimony of my faithfulness and love.
I couldn’t tell people what God has done for me. No one wants to hear it anyway.
I created you in my very image. I have loved you before I even formed you.
I am a failure. I am not enough. I will never matter to anyone.
I sent my son as a sacrifice for your sin. I do not want you to be separated from me. I love you so.
God couldn’t possibly love me. He couldn’t possibly forgive me.
On and on and on. Every. Single. Day.
But here is the good news! We can start seeing our lives as the gift they really are! We can begin to see our lives through the lens of love and purpose that God created them to be. We can begin to count it all joy! We can begin to believe that God’s plan for our lives is perfect, and that his dream for us is more than we can fathom! We can begin to see his gifts for what they truly are! Each and every perfect gift!
Thank you Father. Thank you for the gifts that are so abundant in my life. Forgive me when I question your intent, or ignore your gifts all together. Help me to recognize how carefully you have selected and given gifts that are exactly right for me. Let me learn to say, “Thank you Father, THIS is a GREAT gift!