This article originally published in the December 2007 issue of groundswell.

I take great pleasure in shopping for gifts.  I enjoy spending time reflecting on the person who will receive the gift; what they like, what they have commented on, and what will bring a bit of surprise to them.  Mostly, I want them to know that I have been paying attention to them.

I recently finished all of my Christmas shopping, leaving the gifts for my significant other for last.  I wanted to give him something that would affirm who he is, what he likes, and show him that I truly do “get” him.  Parts of his gift reflect a favorite past-time from his childhood that he has recently started again.  Part reflects an ongoing collection of things.  And part is just plain fun–his kind of fun.

My excitement peaked as each idea came to mind.  My focus narrowed as I sought out each thing.  Nothing would get in my way, and my mind would not be changed.  I could not be distracted.  With purchase in hand, my eyes gleamed with anticipation of the surprise in store.

I giggled as I wrapped the gifts.  I picked the wrapping paper, carefully folding the paper so it would look just right.  I chose complementary colors of wrapping paper, even choosing which paper would best go with each gift.  After all, red paper on a red gifts seemed a bit too unbalanced–so the white paper went with the red gift.

You may raise an eyebrow at my somewhat obsessive approach to gift wrapping–and you may be right.  But I enjoy bringing the whole package together so that the gift is both visually pleasing beyond the actual gift itself.  You may think that I think way too much about such things–and you may be right.  The process of gift-giving brings me as much joy as the gift hopefully brings to the receiver.

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” –Psalm 149:9

When I think of the energy and pleasure I take in presenting gifts to others, my mind spins in wonder that the God of the universe takes far more pleasure in giving gifts to me.  We read the story of the angel visiting Mary, of Joseph’s dream telling him the child his betrothed carries is of the Lord, of Elizabeth and her leaping baby, the birth in the stable, the swaddling clothes, the manger, the angels’ proclamation to the shepherds, the star in the sky leading the wise men to worship the newborn King.  We reflect in the wonder of it all.  And the coming of Christ truly is wonderful.  His birth and life and our ongoing commitment to Him are the unwrapping of the gift.

Reflect for a moment on the preparation of the gift.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit at creation did not roll their eyes in their knowing that man would fall.  Instead, their eyes gleamed at the prospect of sending man the greatest of surprises.  I imagine the rubbing of hands together in excitement over the packaging of the gift, the Holy Spirit excited about indwelling His people, and the Son anticipating the announcement of His coming.  The Three chatted excitedly about the surprised face of His people at the unexpected way by which their Messiah made His appearance.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” –James 1:17

Our God does not roll His eyes at providing for our needs.  He eagerly awaits our discovery of His gifts.  He knows what we desire and He seeks to give us every good and perfect thing.  He longs to see the surprise and excitement in our eyes as we uncover yet another amazing gift.

And what an amazing moment when we receive a gift we didn’t even know we wanted, yet it was the perfect thing to make us feel loved and special.

Several Christmases ago, my significant other gave me something that never would have occurred to me as the perfect gift.  I unwrapped the relatively thin, rectangular gift, much like a thin, hardcover book.  I opened the hard-bound journal and read the inscription: “because your thoughts are too important for spiral notebooks.”  My dream of writing has been decades in the making.  Economical 88-cent spiral-bound notebooks held the thoughts, notes and reflections on what God was teaching me, all with the hope of one day sharing those words with others.

In one gift and one inscription, he showed me with amazing clarity that he “got” me–and that he valued and cherished the very dream of my heart.  To date, I have purchased many of those same journals as I fill one after the other.  And with every new purchase, I remember the original gift.

God’s great desire is to reveal His heart to you.  His gifts to you reflect His unfathomable love for you.  He plans the perfect gift for the perfect time and waits in anticipation for you to unwrap it.

This Christmas, when you see a nativity scene or hear a Christmas carol, remember the deep joy of the Father as He gave you the greatest Gift from heaven.  And know that it was the Father’s good pleasure, the Son’s willing adventure, and the Spirit’s honor to bring you Home.

photo by Robert Proksa

Throwbacks are all about bringing in previously-published articles.  These articles appeared back when groundswell was published in the form of an email newsletter.  The photos are newly added to the blog.

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