The Greatest Gift (As Published on www.pastorlaura.com)
I keep a Christmas wish list on my phone. I start it months before Christmas. Each time someone in my family says they want something — I pull out my phone, open my notes, and type it in. I keep track so when I’m out shopping I can look at the list and remember. With four kids and others to shop for beyond my immediate family, there’s no way I’d recall every heart’s desire without my list!
Yet with all my planning ahead attempts to track my family’s requests, it’s rare I get much, if any Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. As that beloved day comes to a close, I begin switching gears to thoughts of decking our halls – and trees, and banisters and mantle; as well as getting going on that list.
I am the kind of shopper that wants to get in, find what I’m looking for at a reasonable price, and leave. I don’t like lines, crowded parking lots, or the stress the holidays tend to bring out in shoppers around me! I recognize quick, in-and-out, stress-free shopping is less likely to happen when I wait until after Thanksgiving to get started. However, since my schedule before turkey day doesn’t typically allow me time to shop ahead, I try to make the best of it. And the bottom line is, no matter how much time it takes and how many lines I have to stand in or grumpy people I may encounter, I really do want to get gifts for my family they will “ooh” and “aah” over. I want to see their smiles and squeals of delight on Christmas morning. So I brave the shopping, and the lines, and the stress given off by others, to get it done.
As I headed out the door to go Christmas shopping recently, on a Saturday no less — because my daughter’s stomach bug had foiled my plans to shop on Thursday and Friday, I was less than excited. Saturday’s promise bigger crowds, more traffic, and more time. As I drove to the outlets I thought of the people I would come across, but this time from a different perspective. I thought about how for some, Christmas is a time of sadness. I thought of those who’d lost loved ones, of those who might feel alone, as well as of those who don’t know Jesus is the reason for the season. I made up my mind as I pondered these things, to see the shopping frenzy as an opportunity to shine His light and share His love. Lines became tools for conversation. People around me became targets for smiles and small talk. Instead of looking at my lists as things to knock out, I saw them as opportunities to be placed in situations where I could be fully present and tuned in to the people around me. I had great conversations and moments with people around me that day because my mindset was different.
When Jesus came into the world, an angel visited a ragtag group of lowly shepherds to share the good news. The angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:10).” Those shepherds were some of the first to visit the new born Messiah. From there they went to spread the word concerning what had been told to them about the child, and all who heard it were amazed. Their eyes were some of the first to gaze upon the greatest gift ever given to mankind. Their message transformed lives and hearts.
We are still carriers of that message today. This Christmas, let’s go out remembering every encounter with those around us in an opportunity to share the good news of great joy. In the midst of all the gifts that will be exchanged this Christmas, there is none that can measure up to the gift of life we have to offer; the gift of Jesus – The Savior born for all mankind.