A few Christmases ago, I decided to start a new tradition. Since this is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I wondered what I could offer Him.
There were tons of opportunities out there to join in: my church blesses needy families with gift cards for presents and trimmings for festive Christmas meals; our community sets up tables brimming with turkey, stuffing and pies, allowing us to serve and connect with those who have a hard time during the holidays; at work we have a tree decorated with little tags that have wish lists from someone at a nearby nursing home (sweaters, slippers, hand lotion-the list goes on!).
What wonderful ways to feed and give gifts to people who may not otherwise have anything to open on Christmas morning!
But I wanted something I could personally bless Jesus with on this special day. Ideas began to flood my mind, and I felt like a kid secretly preparing something special for someone she loves. I know I can’t really surprise God, but I wanted to give Him a present from my heart to His.
An Offering of Praise
The first year at the beginning of December, I thought about the gift of praise. I love that in Psalm 69 we’re reminded to “. . . praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord. . .” I wanted to give Him a morning filled with praise as I sang of my love for Him.
I poured over dozens of praise songs and decided on just the right ones; some were Christmas, some not. I wrote the titles of each song on a pretty Christmas notepad and one morning close to His birthday, I worshiped Him through my list. By the end, my heart was humbled, my hands were raised, and I understood a bit more about “Oh come, let us adore Him.”
It was simple but profound in drawing me closer to Him. I had given Jesus a gift He enjoyed but realized I was the one who was really blessed.
The next year, I felt my gift needed to reach out and include those around me. I thought God might enjoy seeing the smiling faces of children; Matthew 19:14 reminded me that these little ones are so special to Him.
So I had a plan: I invited my neighbor’s four kids (whom I adore) to my house to decorate Christmas cupcakes. The kitchen was filled with festive plates and cupcakes waiting to become works of art. Colorful icing, sprinkles, tiny edible stars, and colored sugars adorned the table and eventually the kids, too. By the end of the day, every kid was covered in icing, sugar, and smiles. We had a ball!
While they were mastering the skill of getting more icing on the cupcakes than in their mouths, I took random pictures of their funny sparkle-covered faces and half-eaten artwork. Their giggles warmed my heart, and I knew they warmed God’s too.
Afterward, I made a scrapbook of all the pictures, wrapped it in glittery paper, and told the kids to give it to their parents for Christmas. Watching the excitement on their faces proved once again that I really got the bigger blessing.
Last year I decided on something entirely different. I planned ahead and diligently put extra funds in an envelope for an unsuspecting family. I headed to the toy section of a large department store on a mission.
The atmosphere was perfect as I walked the aisles dodging “Santa’s elves” and hearing the festive sounds of Christmas in the air. I wanted to find someone who seemed excited about buying just the right gifts to place under the tree for their children. I saw a young couple with their tiny daughter sitting in the front of their cart. As they deliberated over toys that seemed to be for a slightly older child, I realized there must be more children at home.
Ahhhh, they were the perfect recipients! I handed them the envelope and told them I hoped this might help as they shopped for their Christmas gifts. I disappeared down the aisle and out of the store with my heart full. “Happy birthday, Jesus!” slipped through my lips. Yet another Christmas I walked away with a much larger gift than the one I gave.
Every Good and Perfect Gift
For me, the planning is a big part of the fun. I’m reminded of how God created gifts for us—what fun He must have had as He prepared them! As I thought about the joy we get as we hang shiny bulbs on a tree for our children to see, I could only imagine God’s face as He hung the stars in place for His kids. I wonder how excited He must have been to plan all the little details—like the tiny toes of our newborn, then watch our faces as we unwrap our little bundles. He really knows how to give a gift.
Then I think what it must have been like for God to know he would eventually give the ultimate gift of His Son.
Matthew tells us, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
While that verse makes my gifts seem insignificant in my eyes, they’re not in God’s eyes. Because when we give, we’re learning to be more like Him.
It took me three years to catch on—these had not been my ideas at all! It’s funny how He takes His time, molding and shaping us into His own image, and we don’t even see it coming. Giving is truly better than receiving, and I can’t wait to see what adventure He’ll send me on this Christmas.
Happy Birthday, Jesus!