“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”Ephesians 2:8
Christmas morning holds so many special and lifelong memories—the restless sleep the night before; waking up early to get mom and dad out of bed; anxiously awaiting in the hallway with my sister for our parents to signal us to “come out” to open our gifts; the feeling of excitement and awe at first glance at all the gifts under the tree; and the thrill of opening that favorite gift given just for me. I love Christmas!
I also love to travel. Most years, our family planned a vacation a day or two after Christmas. The most frequented destinations for our trips were usually to the great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee or to sunny Florida. I always enjoyed these trips, but with each year, the surprise of learning where we might go for Christmas vacation began to wane. However, the Christmas of 1996 brought quite the unexpected surprise. That year, we celebrated Christmas at our home a few days early. My sister and I received a joint gift with an envelope that held inside two airplane tickets indicating for us to: “Pack those bags! You’re headed for a Christmas in Hawaii!” We were overwhelmed with joy and excitement. We spent Christmas that year in Honolulu, exploring the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu—a vacation and gift that I’ll never forget. Christmas in paradise!
When reminiscing on that special Christmas gift, I’m reminded of the great love of my parents for my sister and me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but a trip to the middle of the Pacific Ocean wasn’t the most budget-friendly gift possible. An eight-day gift of vacation fun that cost us nothing cost my parents much for our family of four. As memorable as that vacation gift was to me, it didn’t last forever. Yes, it had an expiration date, and we had to return back home.
However, I have received a gift with no expiration. In fact, it’s the most important and greatest gift you and I have ever been given. It’s a gift for all mankind; a gift bearing eternal significance. God, our heavenly Father, has given us the incredible gift of life in His Son Jesus. Jesus is the true Gift of Christmas. Have you received Him? Have you trusted in Christ as your Savior?
Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” This Christmas, regardless of your present circumstance, you can take joy in knowing that God loves you, has a plan for your life, and has given you exactly what you need. He has given you life through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for you and me so that we could have forgiveness of our sins and eternal peace with God. By trusting in Him, we become children of God and citizens of heaven. How will you respond? Accept Jesus—the greatest Christmas gift ever given—as your Savior today and you, too, will one day be headed on a trip. However, this trip will be much greater than Hawaii. It will be a heavenly trip for all eternity, a place which Christ is preparing for you right now. And perhaps on that day, you may hear him say, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).