“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
– 1 John 5:11-12
A week or so before Christmas my husband and I were lying in bed talking about what our kids would receive for Christmas. We had no money to spend, but we were confident in His provision. It’s a weird feeling, empty but complete. I remember him asking, “what are we going to do about gifts for the kids for Christmas?” We had no ideas, no plans. Thank goodness they didn’t want anything because we had nothing. I remember falling asleep with us saying, “God will send something.”
The stuff has lost its luster for our family. It no longer holds this amazing Christmas morning power. Our daughter kept praying every night, “God help us to remember the purpose of Christmas this year and not be focused on the presents.”
We usually like to make gifts for all the people we love, but this year’s time was filled with overnight guests and friends stopping by for tea and coffee.
The day after my husband and I talked in bed, a package arrived. We hadn’t ordered anything so this package was a secret treasure, a surprise, a love gift from someone close to our family. I told the kids to go outside as this may be some Christmas in a box. When I cut that box open, I couldn’t believe it! An entire case of various cereals was looking at me.
My kids pray for cereal. They love cereal. It’s the morning delight. And here was an entire box for them for Christmas. Just like that, here comes Christmas.
We waited, not knowing what was next but hopeful. Someone gave some lego extras our son would love and a game our family could play together.
My husband realized he could turn some old phones into iPods without having to activate the phones. He put their favorite music on their “new iPods” and downloaded books for them to read. I thought it was amazing how God gave him the idea to use something we already had to customize something so special. (My son is reading a book now on his Christmas iPod.)
On Christmas Eve, my daughter came in the kitchen holding up a winter coat and told me she needed to give that coat to a friend for Christmas. An hour later, a friend texted that his sister didn’t like a coat that was given to her and his mom wondered if our girl would enjoy it. So literally those coats passed as a dad left with our daughter’s old coat and our friend brought by the new coat. Really God, You are so intentional.
We received a call that someone had loads of extra gifts and no one else to give them to. I asked if we could give a few of them to our kids. They said sure. Those gifts showed up around 2pm on Christmas Eve and there you go, Christmas covered, right on time.
That’s Jesus. Right on time. More than we could hope for or imagine.
Late that night, we put all the different gifts out on the floor, amazed at the provision of another year. Really God?! I think I counted eight gifts a kid. That’s crazy. He’s so relentless in His love for us.
The kids opened gifts with great delight. Celebrating every item that came straight from our Papa’s hand. Everything was beautiful.
After breakfast and family games, the kids started sorting what they would keep and what they would give away. We have a family rule that for everything we receive, we give an item away.
Examples: If you receive a new shirt, you give away a shirt you already have or you can give away the new item. For every new item we receive into the house, we give something away.
They started making their giveaway stacks. Most of the items in the giveaway pile were their new gifts. Maybe that sounds odd, but they select new items to put away so they have birthday gifts to give their friends for the rest of the year. They don’t want to run out of birthday gifts during the year so they let go of a lot of their new treasures. They think about what their friends would like and plan for the year.
It’s amazing to watch as the various items they joyfully received a few minutes before are the very items they are excited to give away. It’s our normal so there are no tears and no heartache to this sorting process.
This year, we planned some time with friends on Christmas afternoon. They started looking through the giveaway pile and realized that they had enough gifts for all the friends they would see. So, they started wrapping a gift for every friend that would come to the gathering.
They were excited to bless their friends and as I watched them give the gifts, the delight was pure. They wanted to bless the people they loved and there was laughter and smiles in their sharing. No one knew these were the gifts they had just received. They didn’t mention their sacrificing. I don’t think they even felt they were putting themselves aside. All we saw was joy.
Later my parents came by and the kids were eager to give them gifts. My parents were embarrassed as they hadn’t brought the kids any gifts. I couldn’t help hearing the kids tell them it didn’t matter that they didn’t have gifts for them. The kids told them, we will probably just get you some more gifts for the next time we exchange presents. We want you to have the gifts we have ready for you. Then, the kids proceeded to give them gift upon gift they had made for them or found along the way. One gift had been won from a scripture memory contest at church. Another made at a craft camp. Creative love that blesses the heart of another.
Focusing on Jesus on His birthday is becoming so much more than the reading of the Christmas story or singing the happy birthday song. Christmas can be an adventure of faith, of waiting, of anticipation, of giving, of others. Christmas can be a learning experience of how to live and love like Him. Christmas gives us a perspective of others first living. Christmas is giving and receiving. Christmas is stillness, rest and family. Christmas is Jesus.
We ended the day with a hot meal, playing instruments, a family movie and another game. The day wasn’t complicated, we didn’t eat too much, we had enough, we enjoyed one another, and it didn’t require any money.
To me, that’s Jesus. He’s Provider. He’s laughter. He’s family. He isn’t complicated. He doesn’t bring drama or confusion. He’s adventure and joy and peace. He brings light to darkness and hope to despair. He’s enough so we don’t have to fill the void with any temporary pleasure. He feeds us and provides all we need and much more than we need. He is enjoyable. He is constantly teaching us, challenging us and loving us. He is the greatest treasure. His love is unending and can’t be bought. Money doesn’t make us closer to Him and the lack of money doesn’t separate us from Him. He’s perfect and complete and we lack nothing when we live life with Him.
Christmas is incredible. But wait and anticipate because the rest of the 365 days are amazing too. That’s Jesus. It’s His nature. His character. His way.