“… and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9-11)
At Christmastime, we remember God’s greatest gift to mankind – his Son. The wise men celebrated the birth of Jesus by giving him gifts fit for a king. And so began the tradition of gift giving as we know it today. Even with our poor, recession-like economy, this Christmas will witness the giving and receiving of many gifts. I’ve been guilty of giving gifts to my children – even when I knew that they were not mature enough to handle them – in the hopes that they would somehow rise to the occasion. Sometimes, blessedly, they do. But sometimes, I’m disappointed for my efforts. They ask, they get – without putting any real work or effort into earning these privileges. They don’t have a real appreciation for all I had to do to give them these things. And so I’ve learned to withhold gifts until they are mature enough to handle the responsibility. I just want to know they can handle it.
Then, the thought occurred to me: How many of US are ready to receive the gifts that God has for us? How many of us could truly be appreciative if he gave us all we asked for right now? Could we handle it? Would you recognize it when you saw it? Would you appreciate all that went into preparing that blessing? We ask and we wait – impatiently, most of us – for God to do his thing (and our bidding). But what if we’re not waiting on him – what if he is waiting on us to be able to fully appreciate what he has done? What if he is waiting to know we can be trusted to not abuse our gifts? Like our children, we may not yet be ready to handle our blessings responsibly. Of course, we don’t want to wait – waiting can be so discouraging. As we wait, we tend to lose hope and give up altogether. But waiting can also be a good thing – the person you are now is not the person that you will become. Hopefully, along the way, you will come to be mature enough to handle your blessings when they do materialize. The person that you will become is worth the wait.
Just like we understand how to give good gifts to our children, God does, too! (Matthew 7:11) I’m proud of the moments, as a parent, when I am able to look at my children and think, “Wow – they get it now!” More than giving the gift, I love having faith in their ability to handle the gift responsibly and appropriately. It’s one of my greatest joys as a mother; it validates and justifies the means that went into preparing them to receive the gift. God, too, reserves the right to give his best gifts when he knows we’ll be able to appreciate them. But sometimes, the best gift is intangible; it’s in the journey we make and the lessons we learn along the way.