Tonight, Pastor Alan asked us, what gift can we give to Jesus this Christmas?
As I started to think about it, my first answers were things I struggle with, like pride and control. But those aren't very nice gifts, are they? And they aren't really gifts, anyway, because they are sacrifices I need to surrender at his feet for him to destroy and overcome. I wouldn't want to receive for Christmas the gift of the very worst mess someone has, that I have to fix or throw away.
I tried to decide if I had a really good thing in me that I could give to him, but I realized that any good thing I have is from him and for him and belongs to him already. It would be like someone coming into my room and taking something off my desk, wrapping it up and giving it to me.
So is there anything I have that is truly mine that isn't a mess that I can offer? Um, not really.... no. What could I give, then? I thought a bit longer, and came to this thought: if I had a child who was unable to buy or make me anything without my help, what would I cherish from them? Personally, I love thoughtful, creative gifts. So I would probably consider a gift precious if I first gave something simple and the person took the simple thing and made it beautiful - like making a block of wood into a carved statue, or a piece of paper into origami, or a ball of yarn into a hat. Ok, so something simple I can transform into something beautiful... for Jesus.
One of the biggest struggles I faced this year was being unable to breathe. It was just for ten days, but it was profound - I understood how simple a breath of air is, and how valuable and necessary it is to life. Simple... a breath is a simple gift I have received from Jesus - my block of wood, my ball of yarn. My breathing is not the greatest in the world. I don't have powerful lungs, I have been diagnosed with asthma, and I use two assistive breathing machines each day. By no means can I boast of my amazing capacity for oxygen.
But... breathing is something that I can do. And with each breath, I have the choice to sing or scream, to laugh or moan, to encourage or criticize, to promote peace or to provoke conflict, to share the good news of Jesus' love or to complain, to talk about Him or talk about me. Each breath helps to pump blood through my heart and gives me another moment to live, and each moment matters. So this Christmas, I am gift wrapping and presenting to my Savior every breath I breathe until my very last. I commit each word spoken and noise made to his glory, that each breath will proclaim his mercy and grace and love.
I know this will not be a perfectly preserved gift... I will no doubt mess it up more often than I wish. But when I do, I will ask forgiveness, dust it off and give it again. Every time I give it, I will remember that it is only by his grace that I have a breath to breathe, and it is only by his power that I can make it something beautiful for Him.
Merry Christmas, Jesus. Please accept this gift as a response of my love and gratitude for your gift of Life to me.