We celebrate this season of Jesus’ birth by giving. God gave His Son to us as the greatest of all gifts. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When we are scurrying around buying gifts for loved ones, do we stop long enough to remember we are co-heirs with Christ, inheriting every good gift He gives us?
Jesus’s death on the cross was the ultimate gift. He modeled humility for us when he was born and placed in a feeding trough, the manger. He lived a natural human life and did not display His deity until He was in his 30s. Only then did He reveal His true self and purpose. Jesus did not have material wealth but an abundance of spiritual wealth. After His ministry began, He had no true home for rest and renewal. He relied on God for provision and safety.
While Jesus was an itinerant rabbi, needy people came to him all the time. He gave the gift of love to everyone He came across. He cleansed a man of debilitating leprosy; healed the blind; spoke to despised women, and healed people of demonic possession. Just when there was no more food, He fed thousands of hungry people on hillsides, proving that He can feed many with what little they have. During His own suffering and grief, He gave to others abundantly and without reservation—until His last breath.
A very special widow in my life named Priscilla always gave what little she had, and God multiplied it. Priscilla constantly sought the Lord and radiated with joy. When my children were young and rambunctious, her positivity inspired me to get through the long, hard days. Sometimes a song would come to her heart and we would sing together. Priscilla did not have the funds to purchase store-bought gifts.
At Christmas, she often gave me a Mason jar filled with fruit preserves from her fruit trees. A bright red bow tied around the jar completed a perfect package. If the fruit had not been productive, she gave me something from her garden that she had preserved. I knew it was a gift of love because of the work that went into making it. One year Priscilla saved her money to buy materials to make me a cross-stitch saying which took her months to complete. When she presented it to me, I could hardly believe it. Overcome with emotion, I held it to my chest as tears streamed down my face. The saying is outlined in carefully stitched blue thread, adorned with pink flowers:
“I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day, I had so much to accomplish that I didn’t have time to pray. Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task. ‘Why doesn’t God help me?’ I wondered. He answered, ‘You didn’t ask.” I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, grey and bleak, I wondered why God didn’t show me. He said, ‘You didn’t seek.’ I tried to come into God’s presence, I tried all my keys at the lock. God gently and lovingly chided, ‘My child, you didn’t knock.’ I woke up early this morning, and paused before entering the day; I had much to accomplish that I had time to pray.”
To this day, this selfless gift is hanging in a very special place in my home. A store-bought gift would not even compare to the love and thought she put into it.
Priscilla looked forward to Christmas and served others throughout the season. Always wearing her Christmas sweater and bright red lipstick, she handed out preserves to her friends and neighbors. Not only at Christmas but throughout the year, she distributed food and clothing to the poor and worked in food lines at shelters. She never missed the chance to minister the love of Jesus to others. One day she called and said she was learning to drive a small school bus for disabled children. Daily, she greeted these children with a big smile, a word of encouragement, and often gave them a warm hug. The children knew she genuinely loved and accepted them.
When Priscilla took her last breath on earth and her first breath in heaven, my heart felt sad yet joyful. She was in a place she always spoke about wanting to be: Heaven. When she came face-to-face with Jesus, there is no doubt she received the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23 NIV).
Priscilla was a wonderful friend and a beautiful example of giving. She did everything with tender loving care. As Christmas approaches, let’s be creative and give from the heart to show Christ’s love. With grateful hearts we rejoice at God’s gift to us.
God, we praise You for giving Your Son as an example of true giving. Your Son is a gift I will treasure forever. Help me give meaningful gifts and not frantically look to find a present with little thought. Lead me and guide me with wisdom to prepare or find the best spiritual or material gifts for those I love. God gave us the best gift of all, Jesus. Thank You, God, for sending Your Son. Amen.