“Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.”James 1:17
I’m not a big gift person. I love giving gifts, but it is difficult for me to receive them. I think it comes from feeling the need to reciprocate the value of a gift given to me, as if I can’t accept a gift so good from someone if I’m not able to give them something of equal or greater value in return. I understand intellectually that’s not the point of a gift, and yet I still struggle with it all. Especially on Christmas Eve of 2018.
My wife and I went to my parents’ home in north Texas to spend time with them and the rest of my family. On Christmas Eve, my sister’s family and my grandparents made their way over for dinner and the exchanging of gifts. We sat down and watched with joy and amusement as my sister’s children opened their Christmas gifts. After this, we exchanged amongst ourselves. It was at this moment that my grandfather leaned over and gave me a white box. No brand, no markings. Just a plain, white box.
I opened the lid and was dumbfounded at what lay inside. It was a clock. Not just any clock, mind you, but a very specific clock that didn’t really exist until that moment. You see, I keep a wish list Pinterest board for Christmas, and over the past several years I had a clock pinned that I really liked, but the problem was that it wasn’t a purchasable item, it was just concept art for a clock. I turned and looked at my grandfather in amazement and asked the only question I could think of: “How?”
He told me that he built it himself. He looked at the photo and fashioned the pieces of the clock together by finding bits and pieces around that fit the model. A polished, cut cake tin as the rim. Hands from a local craft store. Reclaimed wood from the barn at the farm where he grew up. It was an impossible gift. This clock didn’t exist, until now, that is. Furthermore, it was more special than any other clock in the world because my grandfather fashioned it himself. Not only was it crafted by his hands, but it had his life history built into it as well. This hand-hewn item was more than I could have ever asked for. It was perfect.
Perfect gifts shouldn’t exist, but, sometimes, they do. It’s in that moment we realize that we can’t give anything of value back that would ever mean more than what was given. And that’s the point. The best gifts are given because of the value and love the giver bestows upon the receiver. They are fulfilled alone on the appreciation and love given in return. During this season of Advent, I can’t help but notice the parallels: a good Father gives the perfect Gift out of love; His children are unable to comprehend or reciprocate the perfection of the Gift; and all they can do is return love and blessing to Him, because it’s all they have to give. May we take pause in this year of all years to remember the best Gift given to us—the perfect, personal Savior of the world.