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Shopping for the Right Presents

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It’s late in the night and the house is quiet except the muffled tick of the clock, the white noise of the refrigerator, and my fingers sporadically tapping these keys.  It’s dark except for the Christmas tree lights a few feet away, little stars of light shining near my computer and across my patchwork blanket. A glance at the clock tells me that it’s not late at night like I first thought, it’s actually the first hour of Christmas Eve.  By this time tomorrow, the presents will be piled under the tree and the stockings laden with jelly beans and and candy canes and miniatures treasures.

True to our personalities, my husband and I have been finishing up our shopping at the last minute, and we’ll be anxiously awaiting the last Amazon box, due to arrive “by 8pm on the 24th”, according to the tracking data.  We’ve budgeted and agonized over the purchases, adding numbers and checking the kids’ wish lists and doing our best to buy three presents of similar value for each of our four children. Most likely we’ve guessed pretty well thanks to their detailed lists, and after a frenzy of paper ripping, the kids will all be happy with the presents.

For a little while.

Tonight(this morning), as I think over their presents, I’m dissatisfied that I can’t give them what I long to wrap and place in the their hands and in their hearts.  I long to give them each an identity steeped deeply in the Lord. I long to help each of my children believe that they were lovingly and uniquely created by the hand of their Father. I long for them to see that nothing they do in this world, right or wrong, can make them any more (or less) loved or valued by God. I long for them to know that they don’t need to seek out their worth from their peers, or the internet, or even their parents, because their worth is beyond measure and has been since they were a gleam in their Heavenly Father’s eye.

I’d like to give my oldest daughter a true glimpse of the God who died for her, who is with her now, and will be with her forever, when the visible, tangible things of this world have vanished.

I’d like to give my second daughter a mirror that reflects the image God sees when He looks at her, a daughter radiant in strength and joy and beauty, a mirror that absorbs the lies of beauty that this world projects onto every magazine and billboard.

I’d like to give my son a similar mirror that reflects his image unbroken, made perfect in Jesus, a picture of who God has made him to be: a protector, a lover, a maker, a brother, a son.

I’d like to give my youngest daughter the gift of holding on to her beautiful and pure joy in the Lord and His creation, a joy that can’t be stripped away by the darkness of this world, or by the act of growing up.

I don’t have to power to give my children the gifts of faith, love, joy, peace, and hope. I can offer my prayers, I can offer my imperfect self with my imperfect love of Jesus into their daily lives, but I always come up short of how to fill the needs I see in their hearts.

What are Legos or a new scarf compared to the gift that arrived on the very first Christmas? Because of that gift we were all given a new identity.  We became adopted children of God, a brother(or sister) to Jesus,  and heirs to the Kingdom.

Lord, give them gifts that I cannot purchase or manifest by my will or desire. Give them gifts that will not gather dust in the corner of overcrowded closets, gifts that will instill a deep joy even when worldly happiness is in short supply, gifts that will hold them up when the world wants to pull the rug from their faith and hope.

In truth, the gift was given long ago, Lord help them to receive it.

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