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.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Love this….God truly IS the Giver of all good gifts! Look what a sacrifice He gave us in giving us Jesus. When I pause and really….I mean really try to wrap my tiny brain around this, I can’t even fathom it. He sent His only beloved, sacrificial lamb literally into the lion’s den. He gave us this beautiful, innocent, perfect gift and look what we did to Him….But, God not only gives gifts, He speaks all the love languages. He gives us the gifts of Words in scripture. He gives us the gift of Touch when the sunshine caresses our cheeks. He gives us the gift of Time Spent….He waits on us endlessly and tirelessly for us to come and spend time in His presence. He gives us the gift of Doing Things for us and in us. Look at what all He does – He causes our very bodies to move and be and do. He does tiny and great things for us each and every day. Praise that we have a Heavenly Father who speaks all the love languages to us all the time. Joining with you in clapping with glee at His goodness to us. Just Jesus is enough reason for me to be grateful this season.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas, Anna, surrounded by those you love. Thanks for ALL you do to make (in)courage happen every day. YOU are a giver of good gifts.
Michele Morin says
Amazing that we are constantly on the mind of our Savior. As much as I love my kids, I forget things — sometimes important things.
And thanks for this review of Gift Receiving Etiquette 101. I do struggle with it, forgetting that a simple thank you is all God really wants from me.
So beautifully said, Anna! So true. Thank you for your gift of writing that you’ve shared with us.
Many blessings on you and Merry Christmas!
Loved this. Thanks.
Elizabeth A Curry says
A lovely reminder, Anna. Thank you.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas from a fellow Minnesotan. 🙂
It *is* too much to take in, isn’t it? I can’t even, either. Right there with ya, sister. Beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for the sweet reminder that I’m always on His mind. This truth is so comforting. Merry Christmas, Anna. xoxo
Susan Shipe says
He’s always on mine too!
Pearl Allard says
Anna, thank you for the reminder that we love because we’ve been loved first. And continually. And amazingly. And forever. I can’t even, either! Amazed with you. Merry Christmas!
Gina Grabenstatter says
Wow, I feel very strongly about everything you said. As my clients hand me gifts I am overwhelmed by the caring, loving, relationships I have formed over the 17 years in my practice. It still amazes me that as they are out shopping for their family and close friends that I am part of their thoughts during the holiday season.
Lately I’ve become more faithful than ever and I feel it all coming back to me. It is amazing and a beautiful feeling of gratefulness! Thank you for your post today, it helps us stay connected. I am finding the more I open my heart the more beauty that comes to me.
Gina Grabenstatter says
Oh and one more thing I am using that verse, “how precious are your thoughts… and writing it on each card to my client as I thank them for keeping me in their thoughts.
Anna, thank-you so much for so beautifully sharing……………
‘Thou hast made Summer and Winter’
Blessings to you,
Rebecca L Jones says
I think receiving has always been harder for me. Maybe because I was always the giver. Merry Christmas!
Rashawnda Dunbar says
Anna, thank you so much for this wonderful reminder that we are always on His mind! When I consider the magnitude of that reality, I am humbled beyond measure. In all of His majesty and glory, He is still mindful of little ol’ me and loves me dearly. He truly is the Gift that keeps on giving. Glory to God!
Many blessings to you and yours!
Beth Williams says
I’m in awe of God sending Jesus His only son to die for me! I’m always on His mind-the fact that He will rejoice over me with singing I can’t even!!! Yes. He knows how to give great gifts-to many to number. He gives us joy & happiness. All we have to do is receive each and every gift He sends. A little thank you wouldn’t hurt. Just tell Him how grateful you are for everything He’s done for you. I love it that people think of me enough to get me a gift. I will always thank the giver. Thank you God for the gift of your son & eternal life!! Happy Birthday Jesus!
I pray everyone has a merry Christmas!