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.
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 Yangtze and the Danube. 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.
I stand here before You, peering over the edge of a manger, asking: What gift can a girl like me bring to a King like You?
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 searched the house in a panic, to find anything to put under the tree. Often, we would 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, we found one of Dad’s fine-toothed combs under the bathroom sink upstairs. We 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 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.
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 gone that route.
But all of those Bible pages rustle with a different message.
Scripture 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.
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, dizzy 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 what I’ve got. And it ain’t even wrapped pretty.
And You take it. Like you wanted it all along.
And you trade it for beauty, in the form of a babe.
I give you my sin and my tear-stained heart. You give me love. That is one crazy trade, how you give us your unfailing, unbending unwavering love, in exchange for our sin.
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 was waiting for me to give him, all along.
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