Some of the most wonderful gifts we ever receive are surprises. They can be free or extremely expensive, be wrapped with a bow or take the form of a person. The element of surprise within a blessing is all about perspective and when we have the right perspective, it can affect everything else in our lives.
Imagine a young boy who’s always longed to play the guitar. On Christmas morning, wrapped in a beautiful red bow, is a brand new acoustic just for him! He is overcome with joy because he never had a clue that the gift could be financially possible for his family. That gift held great value for him because it was completely unexpected. Down the road lay a sweet lady in a hospital bed, pregnant with her first child, the one she and her husband had tried to conceive for years. The time for delivery comes and, although she knew about and already loved the child in her womb, she never expected the immense sense of awe and overwhelming value of the babe that now slept nestled in her arms… this was a surprise. Sometimes things surprise us because the gift itself was unexpected, like the boy’s guitar. Other times, it’s the value of the gift that catches us off guard. Surprise gifts do not have to have a price value and they don’t have to be extravagant- they are special because they represent the heart of the giver.
For thousands of years God’s people waited in anticipation. They were promised a gift that they knew would come eventually and even had a checklist for what it would look like. Human-kind had no timeline for when the gift would show up, but they were promised it all the same. Some people kept the faith, others gave up waiting, and more than a handful forgot all about it. Then one day, when it was least expected, on a tiny piece of real estate, with no pomp or fancy presentation, the gift was given. Only those who were still believing in the promise would ever even recognize it… and on the night it was given, only a few were there to welcome its arrival. The gift was expected but the value and immense glory of it never was. A Savior, for all of God’s children, was placed in their arms. It was a present that they knew was coming, but no one fully realized its impact until He showed up in human form. This gift wasn’t a one time deal either; He came to save with no cost to mankind… and the offer still stands today. The heart of the Giver is what made it priceless, and what greater demonstration of love than for the Savior of the world to be given as the greatest gift of all?
So often we forget that the beautiful baby lying in a manger was born to die. It had to be that way though, or else God’s gift would be incomplete. If this had not been, God’s gift would have been rendered useless to the very ones intended to receive and be saved through it. Never in history has a gift held so much value or bittersweet purpose. This Christmas, take more than just a few moments to remember that the reason for all of the pleasure and play we experience now during the holidays, is a direct result of the lack of it all those years ago in a stable.
Surprises are only fully appreciated when the motive for the gift is known. The heart behind that gift in a manger was God’s unfathomable love for us… His Christmas present to us was the full surrender of His own Son into the hands of his broken children. God forbid that kind of selfless, unimaginable love should ever cease to amaze us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5: 8 NIV