My family starts thinking about Christmas at Thanksgiving because that's when we are usually all together and can "pick names," selecting the person we will buy for that year. We started using the wish list method a few years ago, to make the buying easier. Everyone sends their lists to me and I send them out to the rest of the family.
I always enjoy reading the lists - it's quite interesting how everyone's personality comes out in the things they ask for. For instance, one of my sons-in-law is usually quite specific about his requests - it's not just a pair of socks, it's a pair of black socks made of a certain blend of material and patterned in a certain way. This year item number one was a series of baseball trading cards. I shook my head when I read it. Where on earth would we ever find such a thing?
About two weeks after receiving his list I participated in a fund-raiser for a local group. They had a silent auction as well as a number of booths set up with all kinds of Christmas gift ideas. I sighed as I wandered among them, wishing I could get some of my shopping done, but not too hopeful about finding what was on those lists. Then I saw it - a small sign - "Baseball Trading Cards." I blinked and stepped closer.
There were a few packs of cards along with a book. Not knowing anything about baseball, I hesitated. What if these weren't the cards he wanted? What if I had to make a high bid and it was a disappointment to him? Then I felt that little nudge in my spirit. "This is a gift. Just accept it." I took a step closer. I wrote down my name and put a dollar amount beside it. When I won the item, I sighed again. Even if the dates on the cards were wrong, at least my son-in-law would know I tried to get him what he wanted.
When I got home later that day I immediately went to my computer and looked at the Christmas lists. I sat back in stunned wonder when I read that number one item my son-in-law had listed. The dates on the cards I had won were exactly the dates he wanted! Then I smiled. I couldn't stop thinking about the look on his face when he opens that present. I knew he would be "over-the-moon" happy.
Then I thought about that nudge when I hesitated to put a bid on the auction sheet. "This is a gift. Just accept it."
That's what God the Father says to the world every year at Christmas time. He presents His Son, the one who died for the sins of this sad weary world, and says, this is my gift to you, accept Him. All we have to do is admit we need the sacrifice that happened over 2000 years ago, because we all have sinned and continue to "fall short" as Romans 3:23 says. Because Jesus gives us the wondrous gift of His righteousness we are able to sign our names into the book of life and accept what He offers - eternal life with Him. It's why we celebrate His birth - the birth of Jesus who was sent to die for us all.
This is a gift. Just accept it.
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