The Jones family Christmas celebrations bring back some of my most favorable childhood memories. The Christmas carols, the turkey (I wasn’t always a vegan :) ), stuffing, greens and sweet potato pies, and spending time with family at my Grandma’s in Elizabeth City, NC. But one of my most favorite Christmas pastimes was dreaming of what Santa would bring. My sister, brother and I would be so excited, beginning the day after Thanksgiving. We’d spend hours combing through the toy catalogs, making our lists and checking them twice. One Christmas in particular, I recall my sister having that years hot ticket item on her list; she wanted a Cabbage Patch doll like every other little girl in America. My sister talked about that doll non-stop. “I wonder what her name will be (Cabbage Patch dolls came with a birth certificate)?”, “We can push her in the stroller and dress her in pretty dresses, and” on and on and on she went. And usually we would have six or seven things on our list, hoping that we’d get at least two or three of the desired items. But this Christmas, my sister had one thing on her list – a Cabbage Patch doll.
Now by this time I was old enough to know that there was no Santa and so I got to witness my parents in action – Operation Find a Cabbage Patch Doll which entailed at least a hundred inquiries to every Toys R’ Us within a 200 mile radius; standing in long lines when shipments were due to come in; calls to family members across the United States; and lots and lots of prayers.
And their persistence paid off. On Christmas morning, my sister welcomed Carol Lottie and Xavier into the Jones family. I don’t know if I’d ever seen a smile so wide. And she wasn’t the only one bubbling over with smiles, and tears and unbridled happiness. My parents were just as excited, for my sisters’ joy gave them joy. Knowing that their sacrifice and efforts and love were appreciated was all the thanks they needed. And the benefits of my sisters’ joy wasn’t just limited to Christmas day. No, that gift bought my parents at least a month or so of good behavior.
In thinking about this notion of being beholden, I think the relationship between us and God, our provider, should be similar to that of my sister and my parents. See my parents gave with no expectation of anything in return. They gave out of genuine, unconditional love and the very act of giving gave them joy. My sister freely received the gift given with unadulterated joy and her “good behavior” and thanksgiving stemmed from her delight and elation over the gift, not from a sense of obligation.
God wants the same from us. He gives wonderful gifts to us, not because we deserve them or have earned them but because He delights in our joy. He gives to us because of His love for us. And in return, we should praise Him through our worship and thanksgiving. Additionally, the good that we do should not be out of a sense of obligation or our belief that we can earn our way into His good graces. Our good works should stem from our exultation and delight for Gods’ generous gifts of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.
Do we deserve the blessings of God? No. Can we ever do enough, give enough, work hard enough to earn His love? No. Will we ever be able to repay Him? No. Yet we can bring God joy by simply enjoying His many blessings. We can bring Him joy by praising Him and worshipping Him as an extension of our gratitude. The Bible tells us that in order to enter Heaven, we must become like little children (Matthew 18:3). Why not give it a try? The joy my sister had for her gift of Carol Lottie and Xavier is the same joy we can experience for the abundant gifts God’s given to us.
Reflective Bible Verse: Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17
- Spend time in praise and worship, thanking God for His blessings in your life. You may want to journal about the blessings received this year and write/develop a personal prayer of Thanksgiving. For more tips on Journaling, visit http://www.theshulamiteseries.com/journaling/
We’d love to read your prayers, feel free to post them in the comment section for this blog post.
- How might your praise and worship differ if you were more like a little child?
- Playful/Joyful (Philippians 4:4)
- Imaginative (Proverbs 29:18)
- Curious/Inquisitive (Proverbs 18:15)
- Trusting (Proverbs 3:5)
- Loving (I John 4:8)
- Teachable (Proverbs 13:18)