Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Misunderstood Gift

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

At this time of year we celebrate Christmas! It is a happy, joyful season where people exchange gifts, put up Christmas trees, light candles, make goodies, sing carols, send out cards and decorate their houses and lawns with lights and large plastic objects that look like Santa Claus, reindeer and snowmen. A lot of effort, time and money goes into making this season the most celebrated season of the year. But, you can invest in all the superfluous activities and miss the reason Christmas is celebrated.  Christmas is all about the birth of the Christ child. His humble birth was announced by angels, and attended by local shepherds in a Bethlehem barn. In that place, baby Jesus was found wrapped in simple linens, lying in a manger. Not exactly the kind of place you would expect the King of Kings to be born, but there were many things about Jesus, the gift that God gave to the world, that were misunderstood.

Have you ever received a gift that came from an unexpected source? Have you ever received a gift that you never asked for? Have you ever received a gift that you did not want? Have you ever received a gift that somehow was misunderstood? My wife Jody received such a gift. A man arrived at our front door with a medium sized package. Jody took the gift with great anticipation and began the process of tearing through the packaging. She looked up at me and said, “My sister said that she was sending me a special gift for Christmas, and that I was to open it immediately upon arrival!” She was so excited!

Finally, Jody made it through all the different layers of packaging and pulled out the gift. It was quilted—beautifully quilted in several bright and festive colors. Jody looked it over…and then looked at it again, carefully turning the present over making sure that she wasn't missing anything. She looked puzzled, and asked me, “What is this?” She handed it off to me and I followed her lead and analyzed her gift carefully. I said, “I really don’t know what this it, but it kind of looks like a quilted poncho. It does have an opening in the middle.” Jody took the quilted poncho and slipped it over her head. She walked over to a mirror and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness…oh my goodness…” (That is as close as we get to swearing in the Dugone household) She continued, “What was my sister thinking? I will have to wear this when I go to Oregon. I will look ridiculous. Oh my goodness, who has ever thought of wearing a quilted poncho? Is this fashionable in Oregon? Should I say that we never received it…but, then she might feel so bad that she will make another one…” I’m not sure that I have ever seen Jody more anxious in my life, and I was trying not to laugh, because she looked ridiculous in her quilted poncho.

A short time later, Jody’s sister called. It was the moment of truth that Jody had been dreading. Her sister asked, “Did my gift get delivered?” “Yes,” was Jody’s reply. Jody could not come up with anything else to say and there was an awkward pause in the conversation. Her sister asked the dreaded question, “Well, did you like it?” Another pause… “It is some of the prettiest quilting I've ever seen, it must have taken a lot of time—thank you, it is lovely!” Jody’s sister continued, “I  wanted you to open it right away so that you could put it under your Christmas Tree. I just thought that a quilted Christmas Tree Skirt would really dress up your Christmas Tree.” Jody mused out loud, “A Christmas Tree Skirt…of course, a Christmas Tree Skirt.” I could hear the relief rolling off of Jody, and Jody’s sister was right—the Christmas Tree Skirt looked great! Still…I would have enjoyed watching Jody step off the plane in Portland, Oregon dressed in her quilted poncho of many colors!

By in large, the gift of Jesus was widely misunderstood by the world into which He was born. He was a gift considered a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. But, to all who call upon His name, He is salvation and the greatest gift ever given. The Bible tells us, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 (NKJV)

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