Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Real Gifts

Two years ago before my precious husband became so ill, he wrote an article weekly for our congregation. I really like this one at Christmas and wanted to share it with you. For those that know my husband picture him when he was healthy and enjoy.

Next week most of us will experience (or watch someone else experience) the exhilaration of opening brightly covered packages to discover delightful, fun, funny, exiting, meaningful, and downright valuable gifts. There will be shouts of joy, hugs, a whispered “thank you” or two, and maybe even a few tears. As I anticipate this excitement, I wonder about the neglected gifts. They’re the ones that always seem to be opened last, you know, the annual jar of homemade chocolate pickles from Uncle Joe in Tuscaloosa (where these things are a “delicacy”). Well, they fit in at the “White Elephant” party anyway. It’s really a good thing Uncle Joe can’t travel, otherwise he’d be able to see the way his gifts are treated or hear the sighs when we finally do open them. It’s a sad thing to have a gift rejected, even when the rejection is accompanied by the obligatory “thanks” and a hug. And yes, We all know when one of our presents just plain misses the mark – even when we know the recipient will appreciate or need it desperately later. It’s the idea that we have somehow failed – that we just don’t measure up. Our heart was in the right place, wasn’t it?

I wonder if that sad feeling is anything like the feeling God has when one of us see’s his gift of grace and chooses to “save it for last.” I know we all have very busy lives. We live as though God’s grace is just another jar of chocolate pickles or at least a package of underwear (needed, but really not that exciting to open!). “But Rich, I was baptized 73 years ago, I accepted the gift.” Yes, but did you accept it today? It is after all, the only gift that really does “keep on giving.” When you wake up in the morning, it’s by the grace of God. When you narrowly avert a terrible traffic accident, it’s by the grace of God. When your anger flares at the overloaded clerk and your sin fades away before it’s ever recorded in the book of life, it’s by the grace of God. Yes, salvation is by the grace of God and it’s also his gift, but that grace isn’t found at a single point in your life, it’s something we “stand in” – every day. (Rom 5:1-2, see also Eph 2:1-10)

I hope you’ll have a wonderful Christmas morning; that you’ll enjoy opening gifts and watching others open them; that your heart will be warmed by the love those packages represent. I hope all the more, that you will wake up tomorrow and accept anew the greatest gift ever given – God’s grace. Oh, and maybe you could dig through the pile, open up those chocolate pickles, and have someone snap a picture of you while you crunch into a great big one. Uncle Joe’s heart will be warmed for months! ©

May God bless you with his gift of grace and peace in this season of love.



  1. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing Rich's wisdom. I LOVED picturing him healthy. I could "hear him". Love you all!

  2. so thought provoking and insight!! beautiful!

  3. That was wonderful! Please share anything else that Rich has penned. Maybe he needs his own blog and you could post what he's already written. Tell Rich that this article encouraged me and I will share it with others:) Love you both,Debbie