The Comb

December 7, 2012 | 25 comments


Dear God,

It’s me again. And I’m wondering, “What do I give this Christmas to that special someone in my life who has everything?”

I mean You, of course. You’re that special someone.

Father, what’s on your Christmas List this year?  

Do you want for anything? You, the God of everything?

If You don’t already have it, You could snap your fingers to get it. You simply say it, and it’s Yours. You speak; stars form. You are the Creator of all things, visible and invisible. You hung the moon. You sculpted Everest. You carved a space for the Amazon. You capped the poles in white. You invented dimples and belly buttons.  You situated us perfectly from the sun. The whole earth is your footstool, and You wrap Yourself in light.

Come on, now. What gift can a peasant girl like me ever bring to a King like You?

I stand here before You, peering over the edge of Your manger, just weeks before your birthday celebration. I hang my head. I can’t think of a thing that I could ever give You, that might bring You joy.

Even Hallmark can’t help.


I remember feeling this same way as a little girl, when it came time to find a present for my Dad just days before Christmas. You remember that mad scramble, don’t You, God?

My brother and I didn’t have any money of our own, of course, so we’d search the house in a panic, to find anything to put under the tree. We’d actually steal stuff that Dad already owned. We’d excavate a decent pair of socks from the back of his dresser drawer, or some old necktie from the rear of the closet. Then, we’d wrap it, as if it were new.

Come Christmas Eve, Dad always seemed utterly delighted with what we’d given.

One year, just in time, I found one of Dad’s fine-toothed combs under the bathroom sink upstairs. I wrapped up the comb in the comics section of the newspaper, and tucked it on the back side of the Christmas tree. For the next several days, Dad went looking for his comb.

He had no idea it would be waiting for him under the warm glow of our tree on Christmas Eve.


I feel that way with you, God, like all I’ve got are some used-up, second-hand things to offer. But really, it’s worse than that.

My stuff is more pathetic than second-hand junk from under the sink. It’s practically useless.

Sure, I know that someone would say I could give you “my heart.” That just feels so … cliche. And so insignificant.

I mean, you know the shape of my heart, wretched and ruined and two-faced as it is. I’m Peter, and I would have turned on you as soon as the crowds started asking. I’m so ashamed to say it. But we’re being honest here. So there You have it.

Give You that heart for Christmas? What kind of gift is that? This heart, that is determined to have its own way? This heart, that turns away from You again and again?

You want that old ragged thing?

That’s hard to believe, God.

So I hang my head here, chin pinned to my chest, thinking of other things I might give: maybe a stricter adherence to the rules. If I just tried harder? Wouldn’t that make You happy? I know folks who’ve tried that.

All of those Bible pages rustle with a different message. They whisper the scandalous rumor that you want these ragged, rule-breaking hearts anyway, these hearts that have spurned You. There’s a word for it: grace.

Honestly? It feels wrong. And outrageous. It feels like I’m just giving You a used, narrow-toothed comb, wrapped in newsprint, stuck under the cheesy multi-colored glow of an artificial tree in the living room.


You’ve stuck with me all these years, God. It slays me, how You take me. How You get some sort of pleasure out of me.


How I’ve turned against You again and again, forgetful and unrepentant, and twisted in my thinking. I judge. Don’t forgive like I should. Demand my own way. Stomp my feet. Raise fists. Get really bossy with You. Doubt. Man, have I doubted You. And there’s other stuff that the two of us know. It’s just wrong.

What do You want with a girl like me? I’m no gift. I’m the cardboard box, destined for the trash heap after the Christmas party is over.

Why in this great world do You want me? Pick a star instead. Or maybe the moon. Pick a mud puddle. You’d be happier. Wouldn’t You?

Why would a woman like me ever make Your Christmas list? But I can hear You, just now, saying it into my heart. I hear You telling me that it’s really true: You want all of me for Christmas.

So I’m trusting that. I come to You, a beggar at your door, sobbing over the absurdity of it. And I’ve got my gift for You in my hands.

I scrounged around, Lord, to find the perfect thing to give You this Christmas. But this here is the only thing I could find. I hope it’s okay with You, Lord, but  it’s the same thing You get from me every single year — my sin.

I give it to You. That’s all I’ve got. It’s all I’ve ever had. And it ain’t even wrapped pretty.

And You take it. Like you wanted it all along.


I remember that night years ago, when I was a child, sitting on my Dad’s knee, and he peeled back the newsprint to find that dumb old comb. It was the comb  he’d always wanted.

And I still believe it all these years later, it’s the gift he wanted most.



All my love,

by | December 7, 2012 | 25 comments


  1. amy@to love

    oh. this got me. still feeling all tight inside. he did want that comb. yes. jennifer, this is so beautiful.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Amy. Hard to believe, isn’t it? That any God would want our worst, so He might redeem it? That our second-hand (or even worse) is what He really wants? I can’t quite get over it.

  2. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    This is just beautiful, Jennifer. I’ve had the thought this week about how to show gratitude to God at Christmas for everything He’s given us in His Son. Nothing seems enough. But you nailed it here–what He wants most is our hearts.

    • dukeslee

      Isn’t is unbelievable, Jennifer? That He takes us like this. He wants us. I have nothing. But He wants my “nothing.” He wants it, just like it’s everything. I hope I never get over the absurd beauty of that.

  3. Jeff Hauser

    Wow Jennifer! from your heart to Jesus’ ears. And to think we’re the old dirty combs He’s been awaiting for from the beginning of Creation. If you haven’t read C.S. Lewis’ story of “Six Pence None The Richer” I believe it will have a comfortable ring to you. Btw I found you by way of G+
    Jesus bless, J:?D

    • dukeslee

      I haven’t read that story, but I am definitely a C.S. Lewis fan. Glad you’ve stopped by. God bless you.

  4. Positively Alene

    WOW this brings a tear and opens my heart to giving God more. More of me and my heart. Thankful I stopped by — I love the comb too.

    • dukeslee

      I’m glad you came by, Alene. That old comb… even if it’s all I’ve got, He takes it anyway. Amazing, amazing grace…

  5. Holly

    This sings truth that brings hot tears every year..the last line of one of my favorite Christmas hymns:
    “What can I give him, poor as I am?
    If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
    If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part.
    Yet, what I can I give him: give my heart.”

    It feels like nothing because we know what resides in there but in reality, it is everything. The fact that He wants us at all is staggering. That he wants it ALL–ridiculous!

    Swimming in the grace that is God’s love this Christmas season and I am happy to say…
    I’m drowning.

    • dukeslee

      Glad you’re standing with me, Nancy. Isn’t He so gracious? To take what little we have?

    • dukeslee

      Quite lovely. Thank you, Laura.

  6. Janie Fox

    Loved this. So good. So very good.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks Janie, for stopping by, and for your kind words.

  7. Megan Willome

    “Pick a mud puddle.”–that’s my favorite line. God of mud puddles. And how much cleaner that looks than my own heart/life. Um Hm.

  8. dukeslee

    Thanks, Megan. The mud puddle … it just sort of flew out of the fingertips last night. And it looked rather out of place when I saw on the screen. And then it sort of looked just right.

    You make it even richer here. Thanks for that.

  9. Kris

    Oh my heart. This is exactly it, Jennifer. Why of all the people does He call us each, to do that special thing, why not somebody else, somebody brighter or smarter, or wittier, or more popular? He chooses us–His heart is so much better and more gracious than we can even begin to understand. Thank you for this. I love the way you see Him.

  10. Linda

    Just perfect Jennifer; just perfect.

  11. floyd

    I don’t know much, but I know for sure that is exactly what your dad wanted from you for Christmas… He could read it in your eyes and soul… A gift from our Father that only dad’s know… okay… and moms.

    How peculiar it is to see this post.. I write titles or ideas I have of different posts I want to do… About a week and a half ago I scribbled across the first page of the legal pad I pen all my posts on; “combs.” Remembering the combs my dad carried and the combs we did as kids… They were different…

  12. Sylvia R

    Ah, yes, when it comes down to it, we can only give Him what’s His in the first place!
    Warm, moving post.

  13. Dolly@Soulstops

    I’m with you, Jennifer, it is scandalous grace that He wants our hearts….Thank you for reminding me of that truth 🙂

  14. debyholtschlag

    “I’m the cardboard box, destined for the trash heap” – how often that turns out to be the favorite thing a child will play with, while the “wonderful” gift we picked out sits discarded. Love how you brought out that all He really wants is the part of us we deem as “trash” or the “hidden sin”. Only when we give Him that “gift” is He able to transform us into “wonderful”. So thankful and blessed by His blood, grace, and mercy. Love how He uses you as His vessel to share!



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