The Perfect Gift
Matthew 2:11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Psalm 46:10 “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”
Exodus 33:15 “Then Moses said to him, ‘If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.’”
I've found myself sometimes treating God like a heavenly Santa Claus. It's that easy to slip in to thinking that God's primary role is to grant our wishes, provided we've been good enough or prayed enough to earn them. And let's face it, Santa's "naughty or nice" scale feels quite forgiving at times, doesn't it? We often reckon that if we're not at the bottom of the list, we're entitled to what we desire. We love to talk about the “blessings of God,” and we certainly love to receive them!
I have a family member who was a master at last-minute Christmas shopping. A few days before the big day, it was a frantic hunt for gifts, late-night wrapping sessions using whatever paper was left. At first, it bothered me, but I gradually learned to see beneath the surface. This person is actually an amazing gift giver. I had to change my perspective and realize that the real gift was the loving relationship we shared. Whether the presents were perfectly wrapped or not, what mattered most was the bond between us.
This got me thinking about my relationship with the Lord. How often do I find myself desiring God's gifts more than simply being in his presence? Am I guilty of praying more for specific blessings than for the gift of experiencing him? Do I approach my relationship with God, expecting something in return?
As we brave the hustle and bustle of crowded malls in search of the ideal gifts for our loved ones, what if we shift our focus from "What are we buying?" to "Who is this about?" What if this holiday season becomes more about spending quality time with God, reveling in his presence, and discovering joy in the season itself? Let's aim to prioritize presence over presents.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Spend time with Jesus today. Make it apparent that this is more about the blessings than what you desire from him. List five things you are grateful for and tell someone. Have your family participate with you.
How’s your prayer life? Think about your prayers and the motivations behind them. Consider whether your prayers tend to focus more on asking for specific blessings rather than seeking God's presence. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Father, in our quest for the perfect gifts, remind us that the greatest gift is found in your presence. Help us to shift our focus from material presents to spending time with you. In this season, let us find joy and peace in your loving embrace. In Jesus' name. Amen.