I have never been satisfied with what I am able to give for Christmas, Birthdays, and Anniversaries. Never. And for all of 34 years of marriage and 31 years of fatherhood that feeling has persisted. I want to give good things to my wife and my children.
I really don't care about getting anything - really - except for the joy I have seen on the face of the giver. It gives me great pleasure to give and to be given to in the true spirit of giving. I would not take away the joy some people get in giving for anything in this world. The size, shape, cost, color, or brand of the gift - even the usefulness - are insignificant in comparison to the spirit of the giver. The love or the caring or the appreciation that motivated the giving is the real gift. The item is a symbol of the spirit. Yeah, when you think about it, it's the thought that counts!
On the flip side, there is not much pleasure in giving to someone who is hard to give to, for any number of reasons, and little real pleasure in receiving from someone when the giving is a burden or a chore. Did I say it's the thought that counts?
So, for givers, not being able to give is hard. Especially at Christmas. In a very real way, a lot of emotional well being is wrapped up in Christmas. And, like Christmas itself, it is not all about giving and getting. But, that's what I'm talking about today so I'll stick to the subject . . . sort of.
Every year I find myself saying, to myself if not to someone else, "Maybe next year." (Of course, I'm not the only one repeating this phrase.) I was driving to work this morning and praying as I drove, and that thought entered my mind as I was asking God for some "provision", "maybe next year". I asked God to help me not be so concerned with the size, quantity, or cost of what Sharon and I are able to give. As soon as that thought was expressed I realized what it must sound like to God, of all beings!
When we fall into the devil's trap of allowing our lives to be defined in terms of material lack . . . or excess, it is good to be reminded of the true riches that are ours in Jesus Christ.
"I am the least important of all God's people. But God was kind and chose me to tell the Gentiles that because of Christ there are blessings that cannot be measured." Ephesians 3:8 (CEV)
More than adequate in every need and lacking in nothing, Jesus Himself has promised, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." John 14:12-14
"Give me, please, God, a constantly conscious and grateful heart for the size, quantity, and cost of Your great Gift to me. And give me the love and the opportunity and the words to boldly tell others of this same Gift you have for them. And when it comes to sharing the truth of this Gift, our Lord Jesus, with others, may I never say "maybe next year" or even "tomorrow". This I ask in your name, Jesus.
We human beings tend to lose perspective from time to time. Some might call it a reality check, but I would say it is a good thing to do a "God check" just to make sure we are seeing things as they really are. We can always depend on God to put us right and to help us see things in the proper perspective if we are willing and listening.
So, yeah, I still want to do good things for the ones I love. (I think I get this trait from God.) And, yeah, maybe next year. But, this I know. God will take care of next year, just as He is taking care of this year, and all the years that came before, and all the years that are yet to come.
There is a gift that keeps on giving. And, no, it is not a subscription to The Jelly Of The Month Club. The gift is salvation. And there is more to this gift than I could ever describe here even if I could fully describe it. The gift of salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a gift, meaning that it is free. There is nothing that can be done to earn it, no price that can be paid to purchase it.
If you do not have this gift among all that you do have, and if there is only one gift that you receive this Christmas season, get this one. There is nothing greater to be had and it's yours for the asking.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
Next year? Why not now?