All I Want For Christmas Is...
By Lori D'Augostine
-- A brand new car ... world peace ... my two front teeth ... It's been the same song and dance every year.
Believe it or not, I have always had a difficult time providing Santa (a.k.a. my dad) with my wish list. Truth is, I don't like to ask for things. Plus, I am way too picky to be shopped for. The thought of my dad masquerading in Express asking the sales reps what would look best on me really bothers me.
Admittedly, it's been the same routine year-after-year. The day after Christmas we return hundreds of dollars of merchandise back to the mall. It's tough enough facing my dad's disappointment, but when I see the cashiers who seem to know everything about me, lose their smiles in the process, I feel doubly defeated.
So how do I end this cycle of Christmas shopping catastrophies, you might ask? I should probably give my dad a really specific Christmas list, you might say. Well I've tried that -- yet still, the gifts were returned. Things that look good on the hanger, just don't always look the best on.
One year, my dad and I went shopping together. I'd pick out a few gifts, and then he'd go back to the store and purchase them. That wasn't much fun either. When Christmas morning came, I could guess every single gift before they were unwrapped. I could tell that my dad wasn't all that entertained by this one-woman show.
He likes to surprise me, and he likes to give good gifts. He reminds me of our Heavenly Father.
"So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light" (James 1:17, Message).
It's probably no surprise that I act the same way with the perfect gift-giver. We all do from time to time. God, this situation is too tight or this life-style doesn't suit me. God, I don't like the way this gift makes me look in front of other people. Sound familiar?
We may even receive every prayer item on our wish list. Yet, why is it that so many Christians are still so dissatisfied? The book of James refers to these Christians as unstable:
"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (1:6, NIV).
Be careful what you ask for. The God who promises to move moutains with your mustard-seed faith is notorious for doing so.
I have a friend who has been praying, fasting, and practically dying to go back to England. Finally after years of this, she was presented the ideal opportunity to go, and do you believe that she still hesitated? England is all she has wanted, but she's pushing Royal treatment away.
We humans can get very fickle, but thank God, He is not. The verse in James goes on to say:
"There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all His creatures" (James 1:17, Message).
God loves to lavish us with gifts that show us off as the crown of His creation. Let's muse on that thought for a while. Every gift He gives is to be displayed.
Recently, I went to the mall to help one of my friends pick out her engagement ring. She has never been the type to adorn herself with jewelry. Yet for this momentous occasion, it was remarkable how she was suddenly transformed into a princess. There was one ring that seemed to capture her beauty like no other. When she discovered it, she was beaming from ear-to-ear and eager to show off this symbol of her soon-to-be huband's love for her.
We can proudly accept the gifts of the Bridegroom. We can trust in His benevolent intentions. There are no strings attached with God. He is wooing His church with the same zeal that a man would for his future wife. God has shown His love for the church by bestowing the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13-14 says,
"It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life" (Message).
God is in the business of shopping too. He purchased our salvation by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross. There is no better gift, and it's free! To all who will receive, God deposits the Holy Spirit to serve as a guaranteed inheritance of eternal life. What a gift, to have Almighty God living in us!
He will continue to shower us with many gifts along the journey. This is His heart. He loves to give, and we should take joy in receiving His trusted treasures. With God there is no exchange system.
"for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29, NIV).
Many of us find ourselves wishing for a return policy and sadly, do not enjoy the gifts and talents He has given us. My sister and I have very similar tastes in fashion. There have been many a Christmas morning that I'd prefer her Christmas gifts over my own. I can tell that this disappoints my father as well. Dad, are you sure that you put the right name on that tag? You know that shirt is my favorite color.
Although we many never voice our complaints out loud to God, our thoughts are still heard by Him. But God, I could really use Sally's gift. If I could type like her, I'd have greater productivity at work. Or, God, I wish I coud lead like my pastor. Then, I'd be a much greater witness in Your Kingdom. I think I might understand why my dad still seems discouraged when my sister and I trade our gifts.
Or ... how about this one? Did you ever think it unfair that some are just oozing with multiple giftings? I have always aspired to be a Renaissance woman and love the challenge of excelling in tasks that I am not naturally inclined. It is certainly not wrong to desire to be multi-talented. The apostle, Paul wanted to be all things to all men too. Yet, we must be careful to not covet our neighbor's gifts.
Do you believe it? My adult sister still counts the gifts under the Christmas tree before we open them. Of course the amount of boxes under the tree are hardly ever equally distributed. My brother still teases that he has the most gifts. The instructions for those who receive many gifts from God are as follows:
"When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required" (Luke 12:48, NLT).
The God who knows how many hairs lay on your head knows what gifts you can handle. Your gifts are tailored and hand-picked just for you! Whether you have been blessed with wealth, health, good looks or your two front teeth, there is no greater gift to savor this Christmas then the eternal life we have in Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the Birth of Christ through gift giving? That is the true meaning of Christmas. God gave His Son to all mankind, and all men are to follow suit. Just like the Shepherds and Wise Men came from afar to present the most expensive gifts they could offer, we to must give unselfishly.
"You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Thank God for this gift, His gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).
And we must also receive with a grateful heart. This is my Christmas wish. Consider the gift-giver over the gifts!
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I urge you to make that decision today. The 700 Club Prayer Counselors are available 24 hours a day at (800) 759-0700 or by email, waiting to hear from you.
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