The setting: Grade School Christmas Party
The scene: Christmas Gift Exchange
There I was, a silent spectator, watching the bag get passed around the circle. It wasn’t the only one, there were many. But that bag was special: I had used a part of my gas money to buy the contents of that bag, and since I couldn’t remember the cap on the price of the gift, I shot high and spent ten dollars. All the other parents had spent five. Doesn’t sound like much until you take into consideration the days until my next paycheck and the driving I have to do until then. Then it becomes three gallons of gas. I spent three gallons of gas on that gift. That’s a fourth of the driving I have to do until my next paycheck. I will be short on gas this week, all for this party and that gift. That gift meant so much more to me than it would mean any one of those kids in that circle, and I knew that for a fact. As I watched the bag get passed back and forth, I quietly watching the face of each kid as they received it and slyly peeked into the bag. A few shrugged their shoulders, most wrinkled their noses. My daughter watched with eager eyes waiting for the bag to make its way back to her. She knew what was in the bag and truly desired it. Only two other kids in the circle of about thirty showed any excitement over the contents of that bag. As I watched the game drag on and on and the bag move slowly around the circle, I became more and more convinced that only one kid in that circle deserved my sacrifice. The rest scorned it. Though that bag was the only one they could really see into, they scorned the obvious contents of it, and crossed their fingers for one of the other gifts. They had no idea what was in the other bags and wrappings, but they were sure it had to be better. When the game was finally over, my gift of sacrifice, my three gallons of gas, ended up in the hands of a girl who had shrugged her shoulders at it a few minutes before. Sadly, I was pleased. At least she has received it with an attitude of indifference and not one of disgust. But I really wished my daughter had ended up with it. She was delighted with what I had bought and she also understood the cost.
As I reflect on this story, I could go two ways with it. I could talk about salvation, about the cost of Christ’s sacrifice for us. I could discuss the attitudes in which we either receive the gift or completely reject it. I could conjure up images of the cross in your mind that would make you shudder. I could use this opportunity to cause shame, but I don’t want to. I simply want to publicly thank Jesus for His sacrificial gift for me, and apologize for not accepting it with a gracious attitude. I often act like I deserved it. I didn’t. Thank you, Lord, for giving your all for me. Thank you for making the gift plain that I may understand it. Thank you for watching me grapple with the decision to receive it without getting irritated at my indecisiveness. Thank you for offering salvation to me even while I treated your gift with indifference and disdain. Thank you for being my Savior.