One Christmastime I dreamed of a watch—one with a tiny face of gold metal and a delicate band like the ones the other fifth-grade girls wore. I tossed and churned at night, daring to hope. Horn rims and hand-me-downs couldn’t ruin my life when frenetic tree lights reminded me of the coming Christmas and the watch. Sunday school lessons and church carols focused on the Gift, but my mind wandered, thinking of my gift and its power to change me from plain to princess.
Finally the morning arrived. I darted to the living room and spied it instantly: a clunky steel watch with a rough leather band—a six dollar Timex better suited to the wrist of a Cub Scout. Even as I thanked my parents, my leaden heart hurt.
Gifts can delight or disappoint and they rarely deliver on their promise to transform our happiness, status or life. As we near our celebration of God’s gift of his Son, I've been challenged by the Word to consider how extravagant a gift the Father gave us when he sent his Son. Three aspects of his gift astound me:
1. The gift of Jesus is worth waiting for. In Luke 2:22-32, the story of a godly man, Simeon, is recorded. God had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. Simeon was so thrilled to meet Jesus when his parents brought the infant to the temple that he exclaimed that he could now die in peace. He continued, “My eyes have seen Your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples . . . A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. What a joyful day that must have been for Simeon—he was not disappointed!
2. We never get tired of Jesus. We never grow out of Jesus. Children tire of toys after an hour, a week or a year, but we can never fully explore Jesus. We cannot fully plumb His depths. We cannot exhaust His newness. Both the new believer and the seasoned saint get to know Him more fully each year. In fact, each year with Him brings a broader understanding of how little we know of His character and just how much of Him remains to be explored. My friend studies Hebrew and she is giddy with joy over the truths she discovers about Jesus as she reads about Him in a new language. I wonder what new things you and I will learn about Jesus this month and in the coming year.
3. The gift of Jesus changes us. Television ads promise weight loss, smoking cessation, confidence, sex appeal or sophistication, but rarely does a product give more than a temporary boost in motivation, confidence, or class. When we receive God’s gift of Jesus, a process of transformation begins. One winter evening, an insecure teenager trusted in Jesus's work on the cross for her salvation. That night during the Christmas season began Jesus's work in my life. I was powerless to change myself, but God began to change me. I grow more confident every year—not in myself—but in the One who is changing me.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).