Remember the breathless excitement of being a child on Christmas Eve, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Christmas morning–the wonderful smell of pine, the magical twinkling lights, angelic sounds of Christmas carols, and oh my, the beautiful presents under the tree–some for me, some for thee!
Some people grow up and lose that child-like anticipation and awe, but not me! As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is turned into leftovers, I trade the sophistication of a middle-aged adult for the hilarity and thrill of a child who just can’t wait for the festivities to begin.
Instead of wishing, as children do, that all the presents would have my name on them, now I receive more joy in giving gifts and anticipating the look of delight on the faces of the ones I love as they open their presents.
I wonder if that’s how God feels when he gives us gifts and surprises as a reminder of his love? Do we respond with gratitude and delight, or do we act like spoiled children who open the gift, toss it aside, and say, “Okay, what’s next?”
I’ll never forget the look of disappointment and deep hurt on the face of a grandmother who gave her young grandson a beautiful blue sweater with his initials monogrammed on the front. As soon as the child unwrapped the present, his thoughtless father blurted out, “Why couldn’t you have gotten him a red sweater instead of blue?” His words wounded the gracious grandmother in the same way our careless words and actions grieve God’s heart.
Many of us blame God for the mess we find ourselves in, and then when he mercifully provides for our needs and offers hope for the future, we ask why he didn’t make our lives turn out the way we wanted, and why he doesn’t make us instant millionaires so we can be self-sufficient.
When we are blessed with an abundance of money and things, instead of sharing them with others and learning the joy of giving, we hoard our blessings and act like children who want everything they see for themselves. Oh how we must grieve the Lord with our childish ways and selfish hearts.
On the other hand, it is the child-like attitude of the heart which the Lord loves. How much sweeter our lives would be if we reacted to surprises in our lives with gratitude to the giver of all good gifts and with faith in his promise to make all things work together for our good.
We need the faith of a child who trusts in her father to make everything alright. Lord, increase our faith.
Unlike our once-a-year celebration of gift giving, God showers us with gifts every day of our lives. Have we become so accustomed to breathing that we forget who gives us the very next breath of life?
Isn’t is sad that many of us act like ungrateful children who expect everything to be given to us, but we don’t really appreciate what we have until it is taken away? What a difference it would make if we treated our family and friends each day like the special treasures they are.
We have been given the most priceless gift of all–Jesus. He is not just with us on Christmas Day. He is with us all the time, giving us gifts every day of our lives if we open our eyes to see them.
On the backliner notes of Janet Paschal’s Christmas CD, she writes:
“Christ came to us before we knew he existed. He paid the ultimate sacrifice because he longed for us to know him. When we were indifferent to his voice, he kept calling. When we turned away, he kept reaching.
He made himself lowly just to walk among us. He was not concerned with our wit or talent or comeliness. He never chose to explain his love or to reason it out. It just was.
We were indifferent to his sacrifice. We didn’t invite him or woo him or love him back. But he came. Thank God he came!
It is beyond our realm of possibility to understand the way he loves us. It is unreasonable. It is illogical. He just does. He just can’t help it.
One thing more: Should you manage even a slight pause from the hustling demands of the holidays, pour a cup of hot chocolate, turn down the lights, sit back and savor this wonderful season he has again brought to you.
Consider his faithfulness in days past and his careful planning of days to come.
Anticipate the surprises. Then throw on the light switch and celebrate! It’s Christmas!”
Copyright © 1999, 2013 Brenda Branson