Something happens to a child in need when they receive an unexpected Christmas gift. The sparkle of glittering wrapping paper distracts the hardness of life even if it’s just for a little while. The satin bow adds hope and laughter. Smiles replace hopelessness and joy comes like the first snow in winter. Forget opening the gift. Holding it means someone loves you!
I should know, because it happened to me.
One of my favorite Christmases of all times involves strangers, lots of gifts and a turkey. To this day, I don’t know the folks responsible for the presents, the cans of yams and the big ‘ole turkey. I wish I could ask them what went through their minds when they decided to give a turkey to a Mexican family—turkey tacos, anyone?
Yet, because of this moment, because of their generosity, I understand what it means to receive a gift given with unconditional love.
This kind of gift prompts a suffering child to hope, dream and expect with great expectations. It ignites a passion to pursue the same grace that now has a big red, satin bow on it. It reinforces a fragile faith and motivates a heart to treasure the love the gift detonates once it's opened.
I don’t know if this happens to every single child in need who receives a gift, but it happened to me.
It’s truly a wonder, how giving demonstrates grace at its finest. It incarnates Christ our Savior who gave us the ultimate gift of salvation. Jesus, fully God, fully human, no longer lies in a manger. Instead He’s all grown up, suffering on a cross, taking the penalty of our sins.
"Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9–11, NLT)
I cannot put into words what it feels like to hold a gift full of love and grace. I couldn’t make sense of it then and I can’t put it into words even now. How can anyone sacrifice for someone like me? I’m nothing special. What kind of love is this?
It’s the kind of love I hope I give to those who open a gift from me this year. Although I feel at a loss for words about God’s love and grace sometimes, I know I can show others His love the same way my church family did for me so long ago.
And then God handles rest. He takes care of the hope that births from generosity. He makes it grow and eventually one day this child who once felt lost and alone will understand she’s never truly alone. With Christ, she never has to fear. She’ll feel a sense of belonging that comes with having a place in the family of God. She will see Jesus.
Scripture says God loves a cheerful giver. I’m pretty sure He loves the receiver too! I should know, because it’s how He demonstrated His love for me.