Christmas is coming. Like really soon.
As I write this, my husband is stringing lights Griswold-style inside and outside the house. My kids are eating tortilla chips out of the takeout container. And my brain is just plain mush.
It’s been a busy season (as has yours, I bet) full of birthdays and book sales and school and projects and dishes and laundry. Which would all be happening on an ordinary day in another month. But added on top of that are the Christmas to-do’s: shopping for gifts, Advent readings, wrapping presents, baking, decorating, giving, cooking, cleaning, church pageants, school programs, and receiving.
While knocking off our to-do lists or finding that ‘must have’ gift isn’t easy, I’m pretty convinced that ‘receiving’ just may be the hardest to-do of all.
Opening our hands and heart to the gift of grace, wrapped in the baby-soft skin of a newborn. Choosing to embrace that which makes these days holy. Receiving the freedom that comes in accepting Christ. It’s no small feat to actually wrap our minds around.
I remember as a child being instructed in the sweet and polite ways of thanking the givers of gifts, and for me it stuck. On birthdays or around the Christmas tree, I could barely contain the joy in my heart and often let it overtake my face in the form of a giant grin, then ran to the giver to throw my arms around them.
When we receive a gift well, it offers the giver a chance to revel in your delight.
If you’ve ever taken the love languages assessment, you know that you have a primary love language. Mine happens to be ‘receiving gifts’, and it’s totally true. I clap like a little kid when someone nails my love language. Receiving a gift on a plain old non-holiday day makes me all mushy inside because I know I’ve been thought of by someone I love. It’s not the actual gift; it’s that I was present in someone’s mind and on their heart strongly enough for them to take action. THAT’S why I turn to mush.
I think it’s why I’ve always loved Psalm 139, especially verses 17-18. The writer says:
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
Constantly on the mind of the Savior. I can’t even.
When I was a camp counselor, I would take my girls down to the beach. I’d have them lick their fingertip and stick it in the sand, then tell them to count the grains of sand on their fingertip. Baffled looks on their faces, I’d then tell them to try to count the grains of sand on just our stretch of beach. Then the sand underneath the lake. Then the sand on all the beaches on all the lakes (and here in Minnesota, we’re known as the land of 10,000 lakes!).
There’s no way to count all that sand. It’s literally impossible.
But God says He thinks of us MORE than there are grains of sand. Again, I can’t even. Always on the mind and heart of the Lord? Good gracious. It’s too much to take in.
We can receive the real gift of Christmas, first given over 2,000 years ago, any time of year, on any day, at any hour. You are always on His mind.
Wrapped in strips of cloth and tucked into straw, He is a Gift that has kept giving in ways big and small for each of us. A lovely snowfall that keeps you cozy at home? Gift. A meal on your table each evening? Gift. One or two dear friends in your life? Gifts. Family that loves you unconditionally? Gift. A church home, a steady job, a perfect red leaf on the sidewalk, a warm bed… these are a few of the ways He sends His love. And as we receive them, unwrapping each gift as if it were a shiny box with a big bow under the tree, He delights in our joy and thanks.
While I don’t know if receiving gifts is your love language, I do know our God loves sending them to you. We only need to open our hands, our hearts, our homes… and receive.