“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”2 Corinthians 4:6-7
From childhood, Christmas always held a sense of excitement and mystery. I did not grow up in a Christian home or in a church-attending family. Christmas was simply about gathering together with immediate family and exchanging gifts. There was no talking about God or the reason for Christmas. Our family always opened gifts on Christmas Eve.
I remember always looking forward to the sun going down, signaling the time was nearing for gathering in the living room around the Christmas tree, for the opening of gifts. We all opened our gifts at the same time. After we finished opening the gifts, we cleaned up the trash and got ready for bed, with the anticipation of more gifts being placed under the tree by Santa Claus. We would awaken to the extra gifts under the tree, and find our stockings laying on the fireplace full of fruit, Christmas candy, and nuts. Every year we would have Christmas at our house, following this same order of events. And it still had a sense of excitement and mystery.
There are not many gifts that I remember that I received as a child growing up. Things age, break, get lost, are taken, or wear out. But the greatest gift I ever received was in 1980 as an 18-year-old. The gift was not placed under a tree nor did it come on Christmas, but it came because of Christmas. And it has added meaning to every Christmas since, and every Christmas in my future and the future of my family. Emmanuel, God with us, shone His light in my heart the first Wednesday in June of 1980.
It was then that I realized that God loved me enough to send His Son Jesus to this earth and that Jesus loved me enough to die in my place. The God I once just knew about became the God that I know personally as I placed my trust in Him. This is a gift that I remember, that I still have, and that will last eternally.
This is a gift I share every year in December as we celebrate God becoming a man in order that He might meet man’s greatest need for forgiveness and salvation. It is a gift I share during the entire year. This year I will gather with my wife, my children, and grandchildren and share the greatest news ever: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Though this jar of clay (my body) will wear out and fade away, the treasure (God’s heavenly deposit into my life) will be forever a blessing to me and to those I love the most in my life. Make sure that you share this beautiful gift with those you love most this Christmas season. This could be the time that they receive the best gift ever!
Have a very Merry Christmas!