The Christmas I remember most vividly was when I was seven-years old. That Christmas Eve I had gone to bed with the flu, and awoke incredibly dehydrated shortly afterwards. My parents drove me to the emergency room down the street from our house, and I entered the building dragging my neon pink Barbie suitcase behind me (to be quite honest, I don’t believe I had anything in it. If you have the opportunity to bring that with you somewhere, you do it).
I remember lying in a hospital bed as the nurse attempted to give me an IV. Considering how dehydrated I was, the nurse struggled to find a vein where she could place the needle; thus, she switched between both of my arms multiple times as she tried to find a good vein. Looking back at it now, I’m surprised and humored by my sass when I suddenly glared at her and said, “Can you please stop doing that?”
Not much longer after finally getting the IV hooked up, I lost a tooth. It was the highlight of my emergency room visit, as I boasted to the doctor that I had managed to lose a tooth on Christmas morning. That was quite the accomplishment for a seven-year old.
After spending a few hours in the emergency room, I was finally discharged and returned home. I thought the visit had gone well and was fun (excluding the soreness in my arms from the IV puncture wounds), but the excitement of the visit was suddenly surpassed by the most memorable thing that morning.
As I walked into the house, I entered the family room and my eyes lit up. The Christmas tree shone brightly with its multi-colored lights in the dark room, and below it, beautifully-wrapped presents. I was in absolute awe of the scene, and at my young age I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Santa had visited during the night, and left me and my brother multiple presents. I’m sure it wasn’t as beautiful as I remembered it to be, but as a child with a creative imagination, it was the most magical moment of my life.
With Christmas approaching next week, I’ve decided to write a post about the holiday and presents, and I hope that story was a fun transition into the topic.
Now before you roll your eyes because you know where this is going, let me stop you.
This isn’t going to be a “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “Jesus and the gift of eternal life are the true gifts this holiday season” post. Instead, I want to give you something different to think about. As I look at my family’s Christmas tree with presents underneath while I type this, I can’t help but draw a comparison between these gifts and God.
A great part of our life is like Christmas morning as a kid. With God as our Father, we race to the Christmas tree in excitement to see what our gifts will be. Considering He is the perfect Father, He knows exactly what gifts to give us. As we look under the tree, we see there are presents of different shapes and sizes for all of us. He reaches under the tree, picks up a present with your name on it, and hands it to you.
We open the presents in excitement, and marvel at what we see.
These presents are the abilities, talents, characteristics, and personality traits He’s given us throughout our lifetime. They’re our spiritual gifts, and I’m sure many of you are familiar with this topic. If not, Focus on the Family has an article that briefly touches on it here, and you can also take their free assessment to gain better insight as to what your gifts are.
God has a plan for each of our lives, and He wants us to participate in helping further and grow His kingdom. The way we do that is through using our gifts, whatever they may be. Since He created us, He knows exactly how we function and what gifts will best help us accomplish these tasks.
However, there are two issues that arise from this because of our human nature:
- We’re jealous. At some point, I’m sure all of us have enviously eyed a gift that someone else has opened. As they beam with excitement and joy at their present, you look down at the present sitting on your lap and you begin to feel bitterness. Why can’t I have that gift? They’ll get so much more use out of their gift than I will mine. Their gift is _________, but mine’s just simply ________. What am I going to do with that? Instead of celebrating the perfect gift we’ve received, we fall into the comparison and self-pity trap. Limited by our own jealousy and lack of security within ourselves, we fail to see what great potential our gifts have. No gift from God is useless. He is not a God of waste. He is a God of purpose, who has a reason and plan for everything. Although we may not understand why we were given the gift that we were, we can trust that He knows why. And we can pray that He reveals to us how He wishes for us to use it.
- We put it on a shelf. We look at the present, smiling, and say “thanks God!” But right after Christmas is over, we put the present on the shelf or in the closet. We let it sit there unused, with the slow accumulation of dust building up over time. Instead of using that gift to bless others, we say “I’ll get to it eventually,” or “someone else has a similar gift. They can just use theirs.” But that’s not how that works. God gave us that specific gift, and He has a specific purpose for us to use that gift. Let’s not take advantage of this.
This holiday season, I want to challenge you, along with myself, to think about this concept. As you look at all the presents that surround you, ask yourself, “what gifts has God given me in life?”
If you know what these gifts are, how are you reacting to them? Are you looking for the gift receipt, wanting to trade it in for something different? Or, is it hidden deep within your basement with your other unused gifts?
I hope that we all realize our uniqueness in our abilities, all gifted perfectly from God, and that we use these to bring love, hope, and growth to the world in Jesus’ name.