When is the last time you received a gift that was completely unexpected? How about a collection of gifts which were totally undeserved, that humbled you so deeply that you wept?

I have been the recipient of this 3 separate times. Now I am not talking about finding my mate (Drew is pretty amazing and my best friend), or having a baby (our 2 kids are tremendous!); all of which are great joys in my life and certainly gifts from God. I am talking about someone doing something for me that I couldn’t have asked for, and certainly didn’t expect.

The first time this happened to me I was a 20-year-old student at Christ Unlimited Bible Institute in Kansas City, Mo. I was not allowed to have a job due to the regulations of this school stating we were to treat our time there as a ministry, so we had to raise the funds to support ourselves. I didn’t raise very much. I had been borrowing an old green Volkswagen Beetle for a few months from a family, but they needed it back since they were moving to California. That left me without transportation. A few days later, an anonymous donor had purchased the car and told the family to give it to me! What a huge surprise that was.

The second time this happened was just recently. My family has become friends with a retired marine named Rob who lives in South Carolina. He frequently visits a couple in our neighborhood that are mutual friends of ours. Rob messaged me and asked if I wanted a camera, as he knew that I enjoyed photography. After telling him tongue-in-cheek that I would love one as a gift, I just couldn’t afford to buy one right now. A few days later, he was in town visiting his friends for Thanksgiving, and he invited me over. On the table was a massive layout of every attachment known to man for a Nikon D800 camera! He proceeded to explain to me how each piece worked, and then freely and happily gave it all to me. His reasoning was it hadn’t been used in several years, and he wanted it to go to a good home without the hassle of trying to sell it all. I humbly accepted his extremely generous gifts, with the promise that I would not let it intimidate me. All Rob wanted in exchange was a particular framed photo I had taken that won first place in a Juried Art Show. Additionally, he was trusting that I would learn how to use the gear and take some fabulous photos. I am committed to doing both.

As fantastic as these two gifts are, they pale in comparison to the greatest gift I have ever received. This gift just keeps on giving, and has been with me since I was 13 years old! I did nothing to deserve it or even know I needed it. I cannot ever repay the Giver for it. This present has shaped who I am today, changed the course of my life, and given me hope for the future. The Giver is God Almighty, and the gift is the forgiveness of my sins by Jesus’ selfless act of redeeming me from an eternity of separation from Him. Simply put, Jesus loved me so much, that He chose to call me as one of his disciples, He adopted me as a daughter, and He has been my best friend ever since. His love gives me the hope of life being filled with Him both here and thereafter. I did nothing to deserve this love. All He asked of me was to believe in Him, and live a life of gratitude for what He has done by loving others as He loves me.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
2 Corinthians 9:15

Guess what?! This same gift is available to everyone. If you don’t truly know Jesus, then ask Him to reveal Himself to you. His Spirit WILL respond! If you personally know Jesus, then you share in this greatest gift, and your joy is full.

One point I will add is that if you are given a gift of any magnitude, your responsibility is to make good use of it. With my Volkswagen Beetle, I drove that car until the floor rusted out completely. With this new camera, I have been learning how each lens operates and have already begun attempting a variety of photos. With Jesus, my joy of being a child of God overflows into how I live my life: dedicated to serving Him by loving others well and telling of His goodness. It shows your gratitude to the giver when you make good use of what has been freely given.

If I could give you one gift this Christmas season, it would be peace. Not the type of peace that means you and your neighbor are no longer at odds about politics, but the heartfelt fulfilling peace that overrides every concern in your life, and leaves you with hope for every area of your life now and later. This gift comes from Jesus, and my hope is that you experience it during this season. Why? Because…

Jesus is the reason for celebrating this season!

May this Christmas be a reminder of the greatest gift known to man being available to all of mankind: Jesus Christ, who came down from heaven to be one of us, to live among us, to heal and serve as one of us, but with the foreknowledge of his ultimate sacrificial gift of laying down his life for his friends.

I hope that you find the free gift of God in your life this year, unwrap who He is, open up to Him, and share Jesus with others!

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:17

Food for thought:
Thank you Lord Jesus for leading the way in your example of willingness to be humble, to walk and live among the weak, sinful and lowly, to eat and drink with questionable characters of the day, and to give of yourself to the point of death. You have been and always will be my wonderful counselor, my prince of peace, my mighty God, and my everlasting Father. Thank you for sharing your Holy Spirit with me, who convicts, enlightens, encourages and guides me.
Happy birthday Jesus!

Fun facts: The Wisemen gave gifts to young Jesus when they met him. Gold – given to kings, frankincense – a perfume or incense used by a priest, and myrrh – an anointing oil (also used for embalming). Together it shows that Jesus is our King, our High Priest, and is God’s Anointed One.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Nikon D800 gift