By Mary Hunt Webb

Posted Friday, December 24, 2010

An image of a red and green gift.

While we were packing up gifts to mail to my in-laws in another state, we searched among available boxes to find ones that were the right size for each gift. My mother-in-law had especially requested a portrait-type photograph of our family, so I had made an appointment at a local photographer and had made certain that we arrived on time. The pose we chose was a pleasant one for which I selected a nice frame. Having done that, I left the wrapping of the framed photograph to my husband. We then put it in the box with the other gifts and shipped it off.

In our post-Christmas weekly phone call with my husband’s parents, we chatted about the holiday and the gifts we received. However, they never said anything about the photograph. Finally, my husband could stand the suspense no longer.

“How did you like the photograph we sent you? You haven’t mentioned it.”

His mother snapped, “You didn’t send us a photograph, and we really wanted one!”

My husband said, “Yes, we did! I wrapped it myself! It was in the same box with the other gifts.”

“No,” they insisted. “You sent us a phone answering machine, and we didn’t want one.”

My husband persisted. “We didn’t send you a phone answering machine. We sent you a photograph.”

After a few more minutes of this discussion, my husband remembered the box he had used to wrap the photograph.

“Oh! I think I used the box from the phone-answering machine because that’s the one that fit the photo!”

“Well! We didn’t open it because we thought it contained a phone-answering device! We took it down to the storeroom of our apartment building. We’ll have to go get it!”

They hadn’t opened our gift.

That same thing happens with God’s precious gift of salvation. Most people don’t accept it because they don’t recognize it as a gift.

When God sent His only Son to earth, some people didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah because He wasn’t wrapped the way they expected Him to be.

The Jewish people expected a prince born in surroundings befitting royalty. Instead, Jesus came into the world as a baby born to a teenage mother and a Jewish carpenter.

An image of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

His crib was a feeding trough in a stable instead of elegant bedding in a palace. Instead of having a courtly entourage when He grew up, He chose working men with rough hands, a tax collector, and a doctor. He wasn’t what anyone expected, nor did He behave as anyone expected.

That’s one of the characteristics of a gift! When we receive a gift, we must expect the unexpected.

An image of a Jack-in-the-box toy.

As children, many of us were taught that gifts are rewards for good behavior and punishment is given for bad behavior. If we carry that into our relationship with God, we may only see the punishment that comes as a result of our sins and not see the gift that is ours when we tell God we are sorry for our sins. Focus on the gift part of Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NKJV – New King James Version)

It is the prayer of my husband and I that you will accept God’s gift of eternal life. It’s yours. Ask God to forgive you for the things you have done wrong. Tell Him that you believe that Jesus is His only Son. Let Him know that you want to accept His gift of eternal life. It’s the best Christmas gift you will ever receive.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

An image of Christmas Poinsettias.

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