A couple decided for Christmas they would not exchange gifts with anyone. (Before you say “bah humbug read on…) This particular couple had been married for over thirty years and every single Christmas, without fail, they gave a lot of gifts. Gifts to those that intersected their lives and some that didn't- gifts for family, friends, teachers, coworkers, the trash man, hairdresser, massage therapist, and the Angel Tree kids. You name it. They also lavished gifts on each other and never went without. The excitement of selecting the perfect gift and then watching as the recipient rips off the ribbon, tears open the beautiful paper, and exclaims with delight at the surprise created a kind of magical euphoria that they craved. Year after year after year.
Over time, they began to start seeing things in a different light. As each year passed, the list of gift recipients seemed to get longer. Gifts began to be purchased and exchanged out of obligation or simply for the sake of tradition. Pressure mounted to find gifts for those who literally have everything and stress crept in associated with spending money on gifts when the budget was sparse. They began to realize, gifts seemed to have become the central focal point of Christmas; despite the knowledge of the true intention of the season.
As the years went on, “Christmas shopping” began earlier with Christmas displays appearing in the stores even before Thanksgiving; thus, ushering in the endless questions of "What do you want for Christmas?" Isn't that THE question that Santa asks every little girl and boy that sits on his lap? Everyone is asked this pivotal question- "What do YOU want?"
Finally, the couple realized (with great shame) they had never once asked God what He wanted for Christmas.
This year would be different... they asked Him.
And He answered.
He pressed upon them that they were entrapped by the creation of expectations and pleasing others that they were missing the very heart of God.
So, instead of heading to the stores or online to shop, they waited for God to highlight His desires and the money they would have devoted to traditional gifts they gave to charities that He placed upon their hearts.
However, as Christmas approached, the wife began to panic. She questioned how they could endure not opening gifts on Christmas morning; it would be too strange as they had done so their entire lives! She thought maybe they should go out and buy just one gift for each other- there is no harm in that.
Yet, she remained silent.
Then God responded.
Days later, they were invited to a volunteer appreciation luncheon at their church. Upon entry, they each received a raffle ticket. The husband's ticket was pulled first and he eagerly approached the gift table and selected a gift. Later, the wife's ticket was pulled and she too approached the gift table and selected a gift. When the couple realized that each gift they selected was a perfect gift for their spouse, the wife began to cry. The very thing she desired- the selection and exchange of just one gift was accomplished! God had orchestrated it all to tangibly show them that He is listening and cares. He hears their prayers and knows the desires of their hearts.
They learned that Christmas that what God wants is just one thing- OUR HEARTS.
Hearts that place Him before all else. Hearts that are willing to silence the distractions of the outside world to listen to His promptings. Hearts that yearn to be in a relationship with Him and are willing to be obedient to His leading. (Even when it may be counter-cultural and cause discomfort.)
When we move past just the knowledge that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season and give God our total hearts we receive the best gift possible in return-
THE ENDLESS LOVE OF CHRIST!!!