My children have hardly paid attention to the wrapped presents under the tree. When I was a kid, I used to shake boxes eagerly guessing what the contents would be.
Last night, however, my 4-year old started digging around for his packages and shaking them. He was delighted that his sisters had bought him presents and was bouncing up and down with glee imagining what was in that shiny box that sounded suspiciously like Legos.
Christmas presents bring us the delight of anticipation. We don’t know exactly what lies beneath the paper and bows, but it’s some token of affection from someone who loves us. If we are only excited about the stuff, then we won’t enjoy the gift as much. Knowing the giver endows the gift with greater intrinsic value.
My 6-year old daughter bought everyone in our immediate family gifts with money she had earned doing chores. She diligently saved a portion of her money throughout the year and when December arrived, she was ready to go shopping. I am anxious to open that gift, because it was given with such great intention and love. I didn’t ask her for a gift, nor did I expect one. I was overcome with emotion when I learned she had picked out and purchased a gift for me. It doesn’t really matter what she bought, but I will love it primarily for the effort and love behind the object.
Jesus has also given us a loving and intentional gift. We often talk about how we are spared from eternal loss—and that in itself is a great gift—but there is a far more exciting gift we will not see until we leave this earth: Heaven.
Heaven. Living with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Angels and my fellow Christians forever. I live with Him now, but I cannot see Him as He is. Just imagine: No more grief. No more sickness. No more bitterness. No more doubt. No more fear. I wonder if I’ll get to chat with Abraham, Elijah, Ruth, or Moses. I wonder how I will recognize my loved ones who have gone on before me.
We know on some level what the gift is, but we don’t really know what we will look like, how our surroundings will appear, or what exactly we will do.
This earth offers shadows of heaven. We see the created beauty of rugged mountains, fiery sunsets, intricate snowflakes, and colorful ocean life. We hear music that raises our spirits beyond circumstance and we feel the comfort of the Lord that passes comprehension. These are pale glimpses, the hint of what’s behind the wrapping, a whiff of a delicious dessert.
We are given these pieces in contrast with the dark ugliness of the world. It gives us hope for something far better.
We press on through the drudgery of this life with the joy of anticipation.
I want to seek the Lord and know Him as well as I can in this life so that when I finally meet Him face to face, it will be like meeting an old friend. When I finally unwrap the gift of heaven, it will be all the more beautiful because I know the cost of that gift and the love behind it.