Happy Birthday, Jesus! Where’s My Gift?
By Maddie Bowser
Flashback: I am 12 years old.
The alarm clock reads 6:51 am, the sun is just starting to make the rooftops sparkle, and I am wide awake. My lime green bedroom walls enclose me in a trap of time that won’t pass fast enough. Teal patterned blankets thrown off the bed, I pace my carpeted floor and throw on a pair of brand new PJ’s. With a sigh, I glance once more to the puppy themed calendar hanging above my desk.
It’s Christmas! Come on people!
Doesn’t anyone get that I have presents to open?? Coffee cake to eat?
Painfully aware that my parents ordered me to stay in my room until 7:30, I decide to sit on my polka dot window seat and settle on passing the time by thinking through the day. My mind flashes from food to games to stockings and, most importantly….
I gave my list a lot of thought this year, and I wish with all of my might that it all comes true.
Oh, but what if I don’t get that mini guitar?
I realllllly want it. I told mom!
I mean, as long as I don’t get another bottle of lotion in my stocking.
Ugh, but what if I do? I should practice my “looking grateful” face just in case.
Nice. That will do.
I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t get that book set. I’ve been wanting it for so long!
Aw man, I’ve totally been expecting to get it! I told all my friends I would get it!
But what if I don’t?
Oh, that would stink so much!
And I hope I don’t get anymore M n M’s this year. I really don’t like those.
Man, now I’m worried I won’t get what I asked for.
Then I’ll have to watch my brothers get what they wanted!
Ugh. Darn it.
I really don’t want to be let down this year.
“Are you guys ready?” I’m thrown from my thoughts as my mom’s voice echoes from downstairs. My head whips around to my clock. 7:32.
Time to go!
Hopping off of my cushioned seat, I slide my slippers on over my painted toenails and head downstairs, my mind completely set on the presents waiting for me when I get there.
And hoping desperately that it’s everything I asked for.
Hold it there for a second.
Yes, I know, this sounds like a typical Christmas morning. But should it?
It seems to me that every December 25th, a battle ensues between Culture and Devotion, and Culture wins every time. Though for 364 days of the year, we may strive to be selfless and live a Jesus>Money lifestyle, why is it that Christmas is the day we seemingly give up the fight?
Now, this post is not true of everybody, and I am thankful for that. But any of us would be hard pressed to deny that, as a culture, entitlement reigns in our hearts every Christmas morn.
And, really, I’m just here to offer a little perspective.
You and I are humans. We are created, limited, and at the mercy of an all powerful God.
God is no human, and He is above all. He is God, the One who created us and holds our lives in His hands.
And yet. Yet. God came to Earth to be a baby, the most helpless of all humans. And He came by choice. Why? To live a fun life and have a blast and rip through presents every birthday?
Well, no. He came to die. And not only die, but suffer. All for us.
For me and you. To save us from death and give us life. He gave it all, the greatest gift any of us could ever wish to receive.
And that’s why we celebrate Christmas! We celebrate Jesus’ birth because it was the beginning of not only His life, but ours also. What greater gift could we ever ask for but the life that is given to us 365 days of the year by the God who loved us so much that He suffered for us even though He did not have to.
So then why, after all that He gave us, does He come in second place on His own birthday?
I’m not saying that gifts are bad. Giving gifts is a way to mirror the way that Christ lived. The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver, and it also condones the art of receiving. So sitting around the tree with family on Christmas morning and laughing about what comes out of wrapped boxes is a good thing.
But friends, we need to tend to the condition of our hearts. We need to be affected by what Christmas really means. We need to wash all sense of entitlement from our souls and recognize, on Christmas more than any other day, that we could give our all every day and still never give as much as Jesus did.
Jesus does not owe us anything. He gave us everything. Nothing we will ever receive in any shiny box will ever compare to the gift that we have already been given.
So cozy up this Christmas! Grab some hot chocolate (with little marshmallows, of course), wrap up in your softest blanket, and sit around the fire as presents are opened and crumpled up wrapping paper is stuffed into garbage bags.
But remember: no gift can ever compare to the one that was opened 2,000 years ago in a barn in Bethlehem.