(Originally Posted on December 12, 2013)
Fluorescent light and a thump on the bed awake you. You blink, slowly bringing your child into focus. His eyes are wide with expectation. “Wake up! Santa came!” And though, as a teenager, he doesn’t believe in the Santa of the red hat and white beard anymore, Santa’s spirit is very much alive.
You shoo your teen from the room and sit up with a stretching yawn. Then the fever hits. Christmas fever. The excitement you saw just moments ago in your child’s eyes, now bubbles in your heart. You can’t wait until he unwraps the present you so carefully purchased, knowing it was the perfect gift for him.
After tying on a robe, you walk with your spouse to the living room. Lights blink on the tree. Stockings overflow with candy, fruit, and, of course, a toothbrush.
Camera in hand, you hold your breath as your child rips the paper. This moment needs to be recorded. He lifts the cover on the box. Excitement drains from his eyes, and for just a moment, his smile falls. But you’ve trained him well. He looks at you, and his lips curl upward, but disappointment clouds his eyes as he murmurs, “Thank you,” his gratitude an obvious lie.
“You’re welcome.” You return the disheartened smile.
Weeks later, you discover that gift buried beneath your child’s bed, entombed in plastic. Didn’t he know it was chosen specially for him?
Have you experienced that as a parent, or even as a child, excitedly tearing into wrapping paper only to discover that the gift wasn’t at all what you wanted or asked for? I know I have. There’s seems to be a disconnect between the giver and the receiver, a moment of truth when you realize you really don’t know each other.
Just think how God feels when we ignore the gifts He’s given us, when we hide them away unused. When we bury them so deep, they will never bear fruit, and oftentimes erode away.
For years, that’s what I did with my writing. It certainly wasn’t a practical gift, so I stored it beneath my bed, buried beneath years of dust, and behind other unwanted gifts. Eventually, I forgot about it.
But, God doesn’t forget. Over time, He kept nudging me, reminding me of that closed box. Finally, I listened and dug out that box. I opened the lid and, telling no one else, I pulled out the gift and started using it. As time passed, I slowly told others about my present, fearing their response. No one chided me. No one called me lazy. Instead, I’ve received unexpected praise and encouragement.
But the best thing of all was experiencing God’s joy in finally using His gift. The distance between us has abated, and His voice is clearer as my disingenuous “Thank you,” becomes living gratitude.
And an act of worship.
As we move through this Advent season, celebrating God’s greatest gift to us, I dig beneath my bed, wondering what else I’ve hidden. What other gifts have I failed to use? Have I buried my faith beneath home decorating, stuff-buying, and card writing? Or do I live that faith so others will see it and accept His gift?
I push boxes aside beneath my bed. It isn’t long before I find another abandoned present. I open it and remove sheet music. It’s time I demonstrate my gratitude.
Yes, I can hear God rejoicing.