Friday, December 20, 2013

when you don't know what to give to Jesus

{Preparing for Christmas: Week 3}

It was three days before Christmas last year, on a warm, New Zealand summer afternoon.  

Sitting by our Christmas tree, I asked my firstborn son, 

“What do you want to give Jesus for His Birthday this year, Will?”  He had just had his fifth birthday, so presents were fresh in his mind.  

Without missing a beat, he answered back promptly, “My heart.”

My own heart skipped a beat.  Does he even know what that means?  

This tradition of giving gifts to Jesus on Christmas Day began in my own family.  My Mom wanted to teach us to honor Jesus first on Christmas morning instead of ripping into our own presents.  She asked each of us to think of something we wanted to give Jesus, and then wrap up an item to symbolize it and put it under the tree.  

On Christmas morning around the tree, each of us opened our present for Jesus first, and told everyone what we were giving Him and why.  One year, I wrapped up a music book and gave Jesus my voice.  It was a reminder to me all year that Jesus owned the rights to my voice, so my yeses and nos were to come from Him regarding what I did or didn’t do with singing that year.  Another year, I wrapped up a watch, to symbolize my time.  When I was tempted to rush things, or to complain at how long something was taking, I’d remember that Jesus owned my time and whatever happened was His decision - my job was to stay content and rest in Him.  

That afternoon, I helped Will get out paper and markers, and he drew a lopsided heart on the paper and cut it out.  He wrote “J - E - S - U - S” inside the heart, in backwards, crooked, beautiful letters.  We punched a hole in it, strung some red ribbon through and made a loop, and hung it on our Christmas tree.     

“That’s beautiful, Will,” I said, as we looked at it hanging on the tree.  

“Because Jesus lives in my heart,” he said.  Yes.  He knows what it means.  My eyes stung.  

Will’s whole-hearted generosity prompted my own heart: What am I giving Jesus this year?

In that season my whole world was wrapped around the most precious gift I felt I had ever been given: a daughter.  Suddenly I felt an urge to wrap her in gold paper and put her under the tree.  Both an offering and a dedication.  

Sitting there quietly with Will, looking at his heart dangling peacefully from the branch, I said softly to Jesus - the tears trickling down now -  

My daughter is yours, Jesus.  She was your gift to me, and she is my gift back to you.  I release her to serve You in whatever purpose you have for her.  Don’t let me clutch her too tightly, or hold on to her too long.  Use her for your glory.  

I want my kids to realize very early the true Center of Christmas: Whose birthday it is, and Who we honor on Christmas Day.  

In the process of reminding them, I’m remembering, too.  


What will be your Christmas gift to Jesus this year?  Is there something you need to re-surrender, or commit to Him for the first time?  Is there an area of your life or a gift He’s given you which you need to remember belongs to Him first?


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