What is the greatest gift God can give you this Christmas? I don’t know what you or your family may be walking through this Christmas, but I do know if you have felt loss and suffering at any level in the past days, months or years, this Christmas could be very difficult for you.
Depending on the grief, trial, or pain you are experiencing, your answer simply may be for God to change the circumstance. Some of the darkest moments in my life have left me feeling the same way. It was precisely in the midst of one of these great trials when that question seized me. My initial answer, born out of equal parts of anger, desperation, and despair, was, “Lord, give my wife back to me whole.” Sitting in an empty chapel at the Mayo Clinic, welling up within my soul and overflowing into my thoughts came a different answer than the one I had just uttered out of devastated torment… “The best thing God could give me right now, is not making my wife whole again. It is to give me Himself.” In that moment, it was as if the darkest night was dispelled by the kiss of a gentle sunrise.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.Hebrews 1:1-3
The season of Advent and Christmas invites us to remember how God gave us His very best–Himself. He has given to us, undeserving though we may be, EVERY facet of His nature in Jesus Christ. As the Good Shepherd, he promises to be with us in every valley of the shadow of death.
I hope this Christmas you are comforted by the sense of His presence and you find He is enough for you and you are enough for Him. I hope you are comforted by the reality that He has traveled the path before you, even into the grave itself. He knows the way. He knows where there are green pastures in the valley. He knows where there are quiet waters when you thirst. There is no darkness or danger He has not utterly defeated.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone … For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:2,6
If the best thing God has given us in any circumstance is Himself, that begs a second important question, “What is the greatest gift you can offer to God this Christmas?” The answer to this question requires a simple reflection on God’s gift to us. God has given Himself to us in Grace and Truth. God has given Himself, who alone is infinitely worthy of our love, devotion and adoration, to those who are collectively and individually unworthy. He has done so extravagantly and with reckless abandon. Secondly, God has given Himself to us Authentically and Congruently. God does what He does because of who He is–Perfect. His character is reflected perfectly in how He moves. I would like to suggest the best thing that you can offer God and others this Christmas season, is the most authentic and congruent version of yourself because you are enough in Him.
As you think about what presents to give to whom and about those in need of real comfort this Christmas season, remember the spectacle of Christmas we have created can be very fun and exciting. It can also be a distraction from what all of us actually need and from that which can truly satisfy our hearts. Trees and tinsel fade away to nothing. God is eternal, and the souls of His image bearers were created to endure throughout eternity. May your Christmas be full of the comfort of His presence and may the gifts you give and receive be reflective of the best we can receive, as well as the best we can give to others. Merry Christmas!