Did you get what you asked for? Was your Christmas wish list fulfilled? Did you open that large box with the utmost anticipation of something that would blow your mind? Did you sit on the couch, eyeballing the remaining presents under the tree, daydreaming that you’d be handed exactly what you had been wanting for the last couple months?! Or, once you opened that specially wrapped gift, you gritted your teeth, forced the corners of your mouth to rise, and hesitantly said “Thank you. It’s just what I wanted…” All the while, you were already planning your trip to customer service for store credit. Let’s face it. We’ve probably experienced each of these scenarios throughout the years of our Christmas traditions.
A few years ago, I expressed my Christmas reflection in a way that involved looking at the gifts we receive from the perspective of Lightning McQueen’s quest to win the Piston Cup. We search and search for meaning and significance in the things this world has to offer us, only to leave us unsatisfied and empty. This year however, as I watched my kids open their presents, I saw things from a whole new perspective. The perspective of unexpected blessings.
This may seem pretty obvious, but our kids had no clue as to what they would be receiving this year. Of course most parents try to surprise their children with their gifts. It would be an interesting morning to watch as my wife and I told each of them what was in each package before it was opened. I’m thinking quite uneventful. What brings me so much joy is to first see the anticipation on each of their faces as they are handed a gift. We do our best to make this moment last. Each of my babies have a distinct expression and shriek of happiness as they open their presents. Yet, what became very evident was how similar they are after the pleasure of the unexpected blessing they just received faded. It immediately became an “Ok. Great. That’s cool. What’s next? Is it my turn to open another present?” The thing they had anticipated with extreme happiness, met with shrieks of shock, laughter, and some tears of joy, was now ten seconds later, set aside as if it was yesterday’s news. This is the moment upon which I spent some reflection as to how this pertains to my life in Christ.
“Faith is the basis, the substructure (means lit. ‘that which stands under’) of all that the Christian life means, all that the Christian hopes for.” ~ Leon Morris
Is this how I had spent a majority of my Christian life? Going from Sunday to Sunday, receiving a blessing through worship and bible study, and then setting it aside as I went on with my day-to-day routine between Monday and Saturday. Only then waiting with bated breath to what I would receive the next Sunday morning. Church is an exciting thing for me. I long for it. I anticipate the fellowship with other believers, the worship, the teaching, and the joy of being in the presence of my Lord. However, why wait for Sunday? Why can I not be living this way the other six days of the week? Why would I not anticipate being with my Heavenly Father every day? Is He not the same Monday – Saturday as He is on Sunday? This is what I strive for. Constant fellowship and worship each and every day.
“. . . faith celebrates now the reality of the future blessings that constitute the objective content of hope.” ~ William L. Lane
My faith in Christ needs to be now. But not for the sheer pleasure of what I will get out of the deal. God continues to amaze me every moment of every day. He gives and gives and gives every day. What I am starting to take pleasure in is the anticipation of what the Lord unwraps for me. My hope needs to rest in Him every day. My joy is in the constant revelation of His presence in my life. Every day I seek to find the gift of Jesus.
“More than this, our decisions should be motivated by the expectation of receiving rewards. . . . ‘Don’t live for what the world will promise you today! Live for what God has promised you in the future!” ~ Warren Wiersbe
So as this Christmas season begins to wind down, the presents are unwrapped, the eggnog starts to harden, and the cardboard box and twisty tie industries are relishing in their banner year, this is what I set in mind for the new year: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) I will continue to commit the whole of my life to Him. I want to surrender ALL, not almost. I seek to live each day in the anticipation of what He has promised me. My hope, my joy, my everything is to live now for the rest in eternity that will come. My faith needs to be more active. My faith needs to take steps forward for His glory. Faith is not something to have and hold on to. Your faith needs to be active and alive. What would be the point if my children were given their presents, only to take them in to their possession and do nothing with them? What’s the point of receiving a gift and not using it? Can you imagine if my kids brought their wrapped gifts upstairs and piled them in the corner? They could easily go to school after the break and tell their friends they got all kinds of presents. But as soon as they are asked what they got, how would they be able to share?
Are you unwrapping what I’m gifting ya?! Having faith is as good as placing an unwrapped present in the corner of your room and doing nothing with it. We’ve been gifted an amazing present in the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s time to use your faith. Walk it. Talk it. For the love of Pete, re-gift it!! Share the love that you’ve been given with all you know. You never know, they could be sitting there with anticipation of what gift they’ll receive next.
And, speaking of unexpected blessings. THANK YOU to the person who found it in their heart to leave this on our door step on Christmas eve. Completely unexpected. Totally blessed! I can’t even guess who, why, or even begin to understand. Some things aren’t meant to be understood by us. We just accept what someone else found in their heart to give us, be blessed, and hope to do the same for someone else.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! May the Lord bless you!!