I know it isn’t Christmas, or my birthday, which is redundant as they are one and the same; it isn’t a holiday or an anniversary, but the subject of gifts has been on my mind all evening. The definition of a gift or a present is the transfer of something without the expectation of payment. Although gift giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free.
When I was a little girl my dad bought a set of Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories. My favorites were a story about some kids who started a club that left surprise packages for neighbors and shut-ins, and one about a selfish boy who always grabbed the biggest piece of pie or cake for himself. His mother set up a family feast in which the biggest and tastiest-looking items were the nastiest: chocolate candy filled with something bitter, a hollow pie. The boy learned his lesson that day and always waited for the others to choose first. The one I thought of today was the first, The Surprise Package Company.
What can you give, really give, to someone who has needs you can’t physically meet, such as a large amount of money, or a new body part? As the kids in the story, I enjoy giving things that are unexpected and sometimes simply anonymous, just for the joy of seeing the look of surprise or pleasure on the receivers face. I gave time to my parents, taking them for an extra ride when they weren’t going to a doctor’s office or church. They didn’t want things from me, they wanted my time. My daughter and son are very caring and help me out so much and while my daughter’s family was on a vacation I noticed my son hanging out here a little extra. I knew he was tired from rising very early and working hard all day, so when he was staying around spending extra time I knew he was just staying to be company for me. It touched me that he would do that for me but then I thought about how we say ‘what goes around comes around’ and he was doing for me, what I had done for my folks. I looked at his tired face and suggested for him to go home, take off his clothes and get comfy, lay on his own bed, watch TV, just be with his wife. The relief I saw in his eyes was all I wanted, I had given him the gift of “letting go” with grace and love. What makes us this way? We were “made in His image” and He is love.
As the time of year approaches when we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection from the grave of Jesus Christ, you have to remember that the greatest gift ever given was given freely, without expectation of anything in return. God gave His Son and His Son chose, in the Garden, to follow the will of His Father and die as the atonement of our sin, letting us come to the Mercy Seat with boldness. He loved us from the beginning of the world, while we were yet in sin.
Dottie Rambo penned a song that says it so well, “Amazing grace has always been my song of praise, for it was grace that bought my liberty. I do not know just how He came to love me so, He looked beyond my fault and saw my needs. I shall forever lift my eyes to Calvary, to view the cross where Jesus died for me, How marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul, He looked beyond my fault and saw me need.”
James 1:2-8 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.”
Our tests are the gift that keeps on giving by teaching us to strengthen our faith! Love the way you have been loved, give the way things have been given to you. I give you the gift of my prayers on your behalf, grace and peace be unto you, Amen!