There have been a couple of thoughts rattling around my mind the last few weeks; a set of ideas that I can’t seem to shake and am still not sure if I have figured out. Christmas is fast approaching and the age old tradition of giving gifts has turned into a modern day rat race of trying to outdo last year’s giving or keep up with the latest trends of toys, gadgets, and goodies. I remember the excitement as a kid of eyeing the wrapped presents under the tree and trying to figure out what they were and hoping they were what I wanted. I didn’t think too much about the reasons behind the gifts – that I was loved and appreciated, I was cared for. I just wanted what I hoped was in the package. I’m sure most kids think this way when they are younger, but there comes a time when we all realize that the gift isn’t nearly as important as the giver and why they give.
Over the years I have received many gifts, some great and wonderful and others not so useful and then a few that even though not what I had expected or would have chosen hold great sentimental value because of who had given them and why. These are the kinds of gifts that keep on giving. You come across them in a drawer or on a shelf somewhere, inconspicuous and out of the way, and they bring to mind that person or that event and bring a smile or tear as you receive the gift all over again. I love these kinds of gifts.
There are other gifts that seem to keep taking…taking your time, taking your money, taking your attention. They may be useful and even necessary at times but they always seem to take you away from the more important things in life. I’m thinking about all of our gadgets and toys, computers and video games, phones and tablets, power tools and man cave must haves (or she shed can’t do withouts). These things are useful, but more often than not they isolate us from each other and take from us the things necessary for strong and lasting relationships: they take our time and attention and thoughts away from each other…constantly.
At Christmas time we all think about what to give to whom and what we’d like to receive. We go to parties and bring a gift for the host or share goodies and treats with our coworkers. We do this because over 2000 years ago some kings brought gifts to a baby in a manger, hailing him as the King who was to come. We remember and celebrate this event by doing the same for each other. But this event was not just three kings giving gifts to a babe, there was another exchange happening. The child in the swaddling clothes was a gift from the Good Lord to all mankind. Each were offering to the other the very best that they had. The Lord of creation offering salvation to all of mankind and mankind, as represented in the three kings, offering what was most valuable to them as a gift for the true King.
Wouldn’t it be great if each of us accepted the gift of salvation, (the gift that keeps on giving), and gave back to him our time, energy, talents, love, attention, consideration…the very best of ourselves? If we did, I believe that a few more of the gifts we give each other would be the kind that keep on giving rather than the kind that keep on taking.