My favorite part of Christmas morning is to watch my kids open their presents. I study their facial expressions as their emotions rapidly evolve from start to finish. They begin with excitement and anticipation as they hold their gift in their hand, wondering the possibilities of what is waiting for them underneath the carefully wrapped package. They re-read the label, making sure the gift is really theirs, and not their siblings’ gift, or even worse, their parent’s. I silently rejoice when they recognize the silly, little details Jonathon and I add, such as the tag reading that the gift is from Bowser, our dog, or Santa, even though they don’t believe, or when a tiny gift is wrapped in a humongous box. Once they begin to tear into their gift and what lies beneath is partially revealed, their expression changes from anticipation to recognition when they realize what’s inside. Unwrapping at this point is a formality. Finally, the last of the paper is torn away to reveal the long-awaited gift. They scour every inch of the box, flipping it this way and that, learning all about their treasure, longing to open it up and engage with what’s inside.
It is a privilege that I am able fill my children’s hearts’ desires. Even though I get great satisfaction in giving them gifts for which they ask, I especially love giving them things that they didn’t ask for but end up loving. I long to know my children inside and out. It’s the reason why I watch them when they don’t realize, that I think about them and pray for them even whilst they sleep, that I pour love and intention into so many of my words and actions. I want to lavish them with love, warmth and blessings. I want them to feel secure, desired and that they belong to our family.
I can’t help but compare the experience of giving to my children with how God lavishes upon me in such a loving and generous way. Not only does He know my heart’s desires, He places them there. I feel so loved and yet so unworthy when I imagine how much God delights in me as He watches me unwrap the plentiful gifts He gives me, when I notice the little loving details He places throughout my day, how He rejoices when I use the gifts He has given me even though I didn’t ask or realize I needed them. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
I didn’t know I needed the biggest gift God could possibly give me. I didn’t know I needed a Savior. I didn’t know I needed saving. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) But there Jesus was, lying in a feeding trough, wrapped in burial cloths, being born to die. And not just any death- a formidable, sinner’s death. To be beaten, to be nailed to a wooden, bloody cross, left to die alone as His Father forsakes Him.
A perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for my sins, even those I had forgotten about, as well as those I wish I could forget. My Father desired for me to belong to His family so much that He paid the highest price so I can be grafted into His family. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)