Christmas shopping can be a stressful experience. It is for me. The parking lots are full, the stores are crowded and the lines are longer. Some shoppers are buying whatever they can find while others are like hunters on a safari looking for that perfect gift. I often agonize over finding the right gift for people on my list. I like the element of surprise. I try to achieve that goal in my gifts for others. Sometimes I am able to succeed. A few times I fall a bit short. I think we can all identify with getting gifts that make us wonder about the thought that went into a gift.
I remember one Christmas that someone in my office gave me an interesting gift. At first I was surprised by the fact that this person got me a gift. I opened the carefully wrapped gift to find Ė a manicure set. A manicure set? I was puzzled. Did my fingernails need clipping that badly? With a forced smile and a weak thank you, I accepted the gift wondering what kind of thinking went into that gift. Another year a co-worker gave me a tire pump. Wow....thanks....a....tire pump! What were they thinking when they were shopping for me? I pictured this person going through the store and saying to themselves: ďHmmm...Miltonís tires have been looking a bit low, I bet he could use a tire pump!Ē Itís the thought that counts right?
To be fair about this, Iím sure that I have given some questionable gifts to others too. I have probably given some gifts that caused the recipient to scratch their head. I guess sometimes you just donít know what to get someone although Iím not sure I would have thought of a manicure set or a tire pump.
As humans, we are not always on target with the right gift for the right person. God didnít have a problem finding the right gift for us. It wasnít a gift card, a new tie or expensive perfume. He gave us what we all needed Ė a Savior! When the world needed a Savior, God wrapped His gift to us in scraps of cloth and delivered Him to a Bethlehem manger.
This is not exactly what people were expecting. A baby in a stable? People were expecting an earthly king that would overthrow the Roman government and take back Jerusalem and all of Israel. They wanted another Moses or a David. On the surface, it looked as if God had given man an unusable gift but what He gave us was an indescribable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15) A gift that still gives today. A gift that is good all year to everyone that has lived on this earth. An eternal king. (1 Timothy 6:15)
God didnít stop there. He could have. After Jesus finished His earthly ministry on Earth, another gift was given to us. So that we would not be left without help, we were given the Holy Spirit. There are many views and theologies about the Holy Spirit. Some refuse the gift of the Holy Spirit because of strange things that some churches teach. The Holy Spirit has so many dimensions. Heís a gift with many gifts. His main mission is to lead us in this world. He helps us to discern the truth. Heís here to be a comfort to us. Most of all, He is to empower us to spread the news of Jesus Christ. (John 16:13)
So if this Christmas, you get a gift you really didnít want. Instead of a gift card, you get argyle socks. Instead of an iPOD, you get a fruitcake. Accept them gracefully but then think of the greatest gift you have been given Ė the gift of God. The gift of eternal life. In your darkest hour of life, His gift is there. In the painful hurt of grief, the Holy Spirit comes along side of you to comfort you and give strength that nothing else can do. The strength to carry on. The strength that no earthly gift could ever do. You wonít understand it or be able to explain it but you can experience it. All you have to do is receive these wonderful gifts of God!
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