Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Gifts

As Christmas approaches one of the things that most people focus on is gift giving.  We spend a lot of money and time finding the right gifts for people that are important in our life.  Sometimes we fail in our gift giving.

One Christmas when my son was a young boy, we nearly ruined his Christmas with one particular gift.  One of the jobs that he was given around the house was sweeping the kitchen floor.  That Christmas we bought a stick vacuum cleaner and thought it would be funny to give to him as a gift.  When it was wrapped, the vacuum was the largest gift under the tree.  When my son saw that the largest gift had his name on it he was very excited.  His imagination went wild.  What could that present be?  His whole Christmas revolved around the largest gift under the tree.  When Christmas morning arrived, all he could think about was that gift.  When he opened it, he was so disappointed that the rest of his Christmas presents couldn't make up for the vacuum cleaner fiasco.

Have you ever been disappointed by a gift?  Has someone been disappointed by the gift you gave them?  What about great gifts?  What is the best gift you have ever received? What made it so special? Was it the value of the gift? Was it the person who gave it to you? Was it because it was so unexpected?

As I think about this question I find it hard to narrow down one particular gift as the best. There is one gift that I received that was very special for a number of reasons. One of the reasons this particular gift was special is that I still don’t know who gave me the gift. Let me tell you the story.

In February 2004, 17 members of my church raised 20,000 dollars and went to San Pedro, Belize in Central America to build a church. While we were there we made lots of friends. We were only in San Pedro for a short time, but by the time we left the walls of the church were finished. During the following months, the church members in San Pedro finished the church building. Plans were made for a church dedication service to be held in February 2005. I was invited to come to the dedication service. I really wanted to go. This church building project had been very important to me, and I had made many friends in San Pedro that I wanted to see again. There was just one problem. I couldn’t afford the trip.

Woman In Red

One day I received a letter in the mail from Fare Finders Travel. Why were they sending me a letter? When I opened the letter I was surprised by what it said. Please come in to Fare Finders to make arrangements for a round trip ticket to Belize. Someone has paid for the ticket, but they want to remain anonymous. I couldn’t believe it. My wife immediately tried to figure out who the anonymous donor was. She still hasn’t cracked the case. It is still an unsolved mystery. The mysterious ticket has to be one of the best gifts I have ever received.

We made plans to go back to San Pedro. As we packed and attended to all the details of the trip, the mystery giver was in our thoughts. Who was this person who had given such a meaningful and valuable gift? How could we thank the giver?

Our trip to Belize was wonderful. It was very special to me to see the completed church building. The dedication service was beautiful and moving with people from several different countries participating. We got reacquainted with friends that we had made the year before, and made many new friends the 10 days that we were there. Many times friends would stop by our room with gifts such as fresh coconut water, papaya, or some small trinket. On the last day we were in San Pedro, there was a steady stream of visitors at our room. They wanted to tell us goodbye. Most of them brought a gift.

Belizean Friends

We received one gift that was very special to me. My wife made a special friendship with a little 2 year old boy who spoke only Spanish. Whenever he would see her his face would light up. He didn’t understand English, but he understood the language of love. The day we were leaving he and his 4 year old sister came to our door with a gift. They gave us a well worn 1941 Walking Liberty half dollar. I have no idea how this little family had come into possession of this coin, or why they gave it to me. Even though the monetary value of the coin is only a few dollars it is one of the most precious gifts I have ever received.

San Pedro Angel

I learned an important spiritual lesson on my trip to Belize. I learned it from the people that I met. They had such a desire to do something for us. Even though they had only meager possessions, they had such a desire to please. They wanted to see us before we left. They had to bring us a gift. It was very important to them. To me that showed how I should relate to God. God, I don’t have anything but I want to give you something. God let me know what I can do to please you. God I want to be with you.

He's Alive

In Romans 6:23 the Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”. God has given you the best gift ever, what will you give God this Christmas?


  1. Yes I have been disappointed by a few Christmas year mom had clothes made for us and they were the most ugly out of date styles ever and I was a mere 14 and it was of most importance to dress "cool" I look back I think of how desperately she tried to bless us with practical gifts...instead of "things that would be tossed to the side shortly" of course these clothes were thrown at the back of the closet and not worn very much.....thanks for taking me back to a fond memory of one of our Christmas

  2. Any gift from the heart is my favorite kind of gift.When I was young I went to church and I really enjoyed it cause our service was so beautiful.
    Then I got married and stopped going cause we had other things to do.But recently, seeing how the world is turning Godless, and remembering how I used to love church growing up, I see it as a gift passed on to me from the people who I met there and meant so much to me and I have to also pass it on. I feel like todays problems with youth,adults, business, law and politics etc... is because they have not touched upon God or God has not touched them as he did me.
    God doesn't need our help. He can touch any one he chooses at any time and he does at the most unexpected moments.But once he does, it is the greatest feeling and you want to share it with other people. You want for other people, what your yourself experienced as good.
    I learned that only a false God would tell you to punish, beat, kill, lie cheat and steal. Everything is not ok as we are being taught today, especially done in his name.
    Today it's scary to see more and more people believing it is ok to do this.But then once in a while God sends his angels to make it better.:)
    I don't know.The world has changed and presents are not what they used to be. You have to believe in the reason for giving them, otherwise it just becomes a burden and a chore.

  3. One year my Dad went overboard wrapping presents. He even wrapped the juice that we were to drink for breakfast on Christmas morning. There was a lot of presents and like Gavin, the biggest one had my name on it. I know just how Gavin felt as I anticipated all the cool things that present could contain. But when I ripped into it on Christmas morning, it was a case of Wheaties. Wheaties! You know the cereal of champions. It wasn't even my favorite kibd of cereal but it was okay. We ate wheaties for a long time after that!

  4. Wow, what a powerful story.

    You know it is really hard and humbling to accept a freely given gift. We feel a debt and want to give back, but in your case you couldn't so you had to take it.

    I love this post.

  5. Nice story. My son was once disappointed by a gift my sis gave him. She gave every kids toys except my elder son who was two years older than the rest of the kids and he had a branded tee shirt. He does not know that was a branded tee shirt and began to cry cause he dont have toys like the rest of the kids After that incident it made me realised that I should teach him to appreciate the gifts he was given and some kids dont even have any gifts. Now he is all grown up, he is not a spoilt kid or unappreciative, he grow up to be a good son, he bought gifts for all his cousins younger than him by just a few years and send hand written christmas cards to all. Although we are not christains, he love christmas.

  6. That's a lovely post. Gifts from the heart are the best!

  7. I can understand this post. Even here, it is best to bring along a small gift or token when visiting. 'Face' is an important aspect of life and will always be so even though some Westerners have other terms for it like dignity, self respect etc. Our local churches have made forays deep into the interior to build churches too with much expense but the more difficult part is to follow up after the building is ready. In your case, the congregation basically were ready to worship n they needed start up capital. Wonderful inspiring post this one.

  8. Is that handsome young man your son Gavin in the role of the risen Jesus at the end of your post? He doesn't appear too scarred by the vacuum cleaner episode.

    One of my greatest joys as I have grown older is to see Jesus in the faces and actions of my children and grandchildren. May you and Gina know that joy as well.