Do you see what I see? Christmas gift ideas and suggestions everywhere you go? It is a monsoon of messages of materialism every where. Emails, advertisements, displays, sales, and lists are all very gift-centric. Are these bringing you good news of great joy? Or are they straining you with stress of who to buy for and what to get?
The Gifts I Wish I Could Give
If I am totally honest with you, I would love to have an unlimited budget for the Christmas season so that I could go wild buying gifts of a luxurious nature for those in my life.
It would be awesome to be able to buy my daughter the horse of her dreams and build a stable for her pretty pony. I would love to get a brand new vehicle for my son with an incredible sound system, and one of those supersized bows that make the car look small. I would buy my husband a herd of young cattle to fill his barn to overflowing and top it off with a new tractor. I’m sure someone makes tractor sized bows.
I wish I could send each of my parents on long vacations that they have been dreaming about for years. I wish I could fully fund my friend’s dream to be an overseas missionary. I wish I could give another friend an all inclusive week long honeymoon vacation. I wish I could provide all of the start-up money needed for my friend to launch her coffee house.
I wish I could bless each of my nieces and nephews with large sums of cash to help fund their dream work. I wish I could have the best restaurant around cater lunch for all of the teachers & staff at my children’s schools. I wish I could do a massive remodel of my home adding more bedrooms and bathrooms with plenty of room for company, add walking paths with benches, and invite people to visit to enjoy the peace in the country.
I wish I could…I wish I could…I wish I could.
Do you have wishes like this too? What would you want to do with an unlimited Christmas budget?
Those are some big wishes! These wishes wash away pretty quickly with a look at the current checking account balance. It is at that point where reality hits and I go back to trying to find an acceptable gift with the limited funds that I have, which this year happens to be much more limited than other years.
It is also a return to the stress of did I forget anyone? Will someone buy me a gift unexpectedly and I will not have something to give in return? What if I fall short? What if they do not like it? What if I disappoint everyone on my gift giving list?
In my fleshly humanness and tension filled mind, I can get to a point where I just wish the holiday season were over.
Christmas is meant to be about receiving the gift of grace, not grumbling to get the gift giving over with.
Are you feeling stressed and strained by the constraints of your circumstances? Have you had any thoughts about wanting the season to end sooner?
A Different Kind of Gift
But the angel said to them “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that
will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)
This year I find myself in greater awe than ever before that God in all His fullness and goodness came to earth as a baby. This grand entrance into our world with quite literally no gifts to give by the gift of himself.
Jesus the greatest gift of all, wonderfully made by the richness of God’s glory. He humbly is birthed into the world just as each of us were. This marvelous miracle has faithful shepherds leaving their posts, heavenly hosts praising God, and wise men fervently following a star to seek Him.
God makes Himself known to us and reaches out to us through the arms of a divinely delicate infant to give us the gifts of family and fellowship. Jesus is the revelation of relationship.
Family. Fellowship. Relationship.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.
From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:6-7 (NIV)
As I ponder the actions of the shepherds, I can’t help but wonder if they had an understanding of these words long before they could be spoken. They heard about Jesus and they left. Perhaps they had the understanding that it is fellowship, relationship, and togetherness that builds a family.
Family is more than a statement of fact. It is through fellowship and the building of relationships that we become known, that we find a sense of belonging, that we recognize we are important, that we discover our value, and that we realize a sense of security.
A few short months ago my brother and his wife welcomed their daughter into the world. My niece is a precious gift and a beautiful treasure. I know that it is a fact that she is in my family, our lives are connected by the legacy of lineage that we both came from.
But where we would be if we simply allowed family to be of only fact and not of fellowship and relationship? I do not want to be just a line on a family tree known by memory of name. I hope to be known in heart by the love I have for her and all of the adventurous memories we will share together. A bond of relationship that grows out of the fellowship we will partake in together.
I want to know my niece and have her know me. I want to help give her a sense of belonging, to remind her she is important and valuable. I want her to have a sense of security that no matter what comes her way in life that I will always be Aunt Julie who loves her and is available to her.
If that is how I feel about this little babe, how much MORE must God feel this way about us? How much MORE does God want to give us the gifts of relationship and fellowship?
God wants us to be a part of His family. His love exceeds any lineage we come from. His offer of fellowship and relationship with the Holy Trinity is one that comes with lavish gifts. The gift of belonging, the gift of being fully known, the gift of having priceless value, and the gift of security in an eternal life in His presence. These are gifts God wants us to tear into and enjoy fully.
God does not just give these gifts for our enjoyment. He supplies us with His abundance so that we can generously go out and share them with anyone around us.
Therefore if you have any encouragement
from being united with Christ,
if any comfort from His love,
if any common sharing in the Spirit,
if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded,
having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV)
Y-O-U are a beautiful treasure! Y-O-U are a precious gift!
You are the best gift that you can give to your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and even complete strangers this Christmas season. It is through fellowship and the building of relationships that Y-O-U can give the gifts of being part of the family of Christ.
Gifts of belonging, of being known, of value, of security, and of love are all worth so much more than any of the material luxuries we wish we could give.
As you are looking through the list of people you have on your gift giving list, how can Y-O-U feature fellowship as a part of that gift? How can you let the recipient know they are loved, are valued, and are secure in their relationship with you?
I have been asking myself this very question the past few days as I have been wrestling with what to give those on my list. I have a gift with words. So many of my gifts this year are going to be cards and letters frosted & sprinkled with the best words that my heart and mind can whip up.
Another gift I am giving is individually tailored prayers that I write out and share with those I love, in hopes that God can bless them in ways beyond the scope of my giving imagination.
Y-O-U have incredible talents and gifts that Y-O-U can give others. Y-O-U are a combination of experiences, abilities, and skills that has never been seen before and never will be seen again. Y-O-U are a unique masterpiece of priceless value. Y-O-U have so much more to give than any gifts Y-O-U can buy.
My dear readers, Y-O-U give me a beloved gift each time Y-O-U read the words that I write. You touch my heart with your feedback and when you share your stories with me. I am so thankful for the gifts that Y-O-U give me.
Merry Christmas from my heart to Y-O-U!
Beloved and Treasured Lord,
What an incredible gift Y-O-U give us through Jesus. A relationship with You, being part of Your family, and fellowship with the Holy Trinity is a lavish gift beyond measure or understanding.
Lord, there is so much we gain from this gift – being known, belonging, importance, value, and eternal security. Lord, these are things those in the world are deeply aching for. Remind us these are treasures given to be shared.
Help us Lord to not focus on what we wish we could give, but to focus on what Y-O-U have already given to us that we can share with others. In this way may we find great feasts of fellowship as a part of Your family for Christmas.
In the beautiful and treasured name of Jesus, Amen.