Friday, December 23, 2011

One Gift

December 23, 2011

"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one
and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but
have eternal life.
" John 3:16

How many gifts will you receive this Christmas? I know, I know, that's a highly inappropriate question. Perhaps an even more ill-suited conversation starter is, how many gifts will your children receive on Christmas day?

Our children will receive an abundance of loot over the next forty-eight hours. They'll move from one gift to the next unable to fully embrace or appreciate any one particular item because their internal drive forces them to keep going, to keep unwrapping, to keep searching for the next best thing. Each year I witness our children's gratitude weaken; the significance of each gift minimized as they make their way through a multitude of presents.

I experience the same dilemma. The abundance of activity during the holiday season--shopping, buying, wrapping, decorating, caroling, baking, visiting, packing, more shopping and wrapping, traveling--causes me to lose sight of the true reason for the season. Rather than focusing on the most significant gift I've ever received--the gift of my salvation--the hysteria of the holidays robs me of my focus and adoration for my Savior.

God loved the world so much that He gave us one gift--His one and only Son--so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Feeling overwhelmed this past week I prayed that God would hush the world around me and remind me of His one true Gift. I recently taught a four-week Bible study which revealed multiple treasures God bestowed us through the birth of His Son (see the Free Resources tab to download the handout from each lesson). But each of those gifts came from the same hand, from the life of One.

As my thoughts grew still I realized it isn't until everything else--the shopping, the gifts, the packing list--is removed that I truly appreciate my one gift. I recognized a similarity between my children and me, and for the first time I began to consider what would happen if my children received just one gift for Christmas.

Did you roll your eyes? I thought some might but I invite you to stay with me for a moment.

My children receive gifts from family members. I am grateful for the generosity of family and friends, and I wouldn't begin to tell others to exclude our children at Christmastime. I realize that the giving and exchanging of gifts is one way to demonstrate our love for others.

I'm suggesting that our children receive one gift from my husband and me.

What if?

What if, when we celebrate Christmas with our immediate family, we each received one gift?

Two years ago my husband and I trimmed our children's Christmas list down to three gifts--after all, the wise men brought Jesus three gifts upon His birth (Matthew 2:1-11), why should we receive more than our King? But this year, we've trimmed our tree even more.

God gave us one gift at Christmas--not three, not one hundred and three. To my earlier point, many treasures came to us through that one gift--the gift of life, hope and peace to name a few. When my children receive one gift from mom and dad, won't they also receive the gift of simplification? of gratitude? of learning to embrace and appreciate one gift?

What if I follow God's lead?

What if we give our children one gift and give Jesus three?

Maybe you've seen the image circulating on Facebook--the one with a picture of starving children on one side and a picture of holiday shoppers with full carts (and full arms) on the other side. Beneath the photo reads, "Define necessity."

Just think of what we could do with the money made available by narrowing down our shopping list.

Yesterday our family chose to return this

$10 Barbie clothes

in exchange for this

feeding a hungry baby for a week.
(Photo courtesy of Samaritan's Purse 2011 Gift Catalog)

I share snapshots of our giving neither to boast nor to depict myself as a saint, but rather to demonstrate the power of a dollar . . . or in this case, of ten dollars.

Malachi 3:10 reads, "'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,' says the Lord
of Heaven’s Armies, 'I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will
pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!
Try it! Put me to the test!'"
Its the only place in Scripture God tells us to test Him. In essence God says
, "Share generously with those in need. When you do, I will bless you so much you won't have room for it all." I know my God. He's an A+ student. He'll pass this test every time!

As the conclusion of a busy holiday season fast approaches I invite you to consider one gift. May God help us to unwrap the gift of Jesus on Christmas day as well as each day of the coming new year.

I'd love to hear from you. If you had to choose, what one gift would you like to receive this Christmas? How does your family take time to recognize the significance of each gift at Christmastime?


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