Three shopping days before Christmas. I’m leaving for one last excursion to the mall, but before I go, I need to put down some thoughts to share with you…thoughts about three gifts I’ve received in the past two days that thrill my heart. They’re gifts that have eternal value.
One of the gifts came yesterday as a phone call from my Minnesota “sister,” Donna. We met in registration line at Seattle Pacific College (now University) many years ago and became lifelong friends within five minutes. Donna, an only child, lost both her parents when she was ten years old. My big, boisterous family welcomed her and helped release the lively personality that had been so long suppressed. Today Donna’s body is twisted with osteoporosis, and she lives with constant pain, but her positive attitude still sizzles across the miles whenever we talk. Her gift to me yesterday was to remind me of my godly parentage. Some of those memories had been obscured when the process of aging ravaged Mom’s life, and Dad’s. Donna reminded me of Mom’s heart for God in earlier years and that God does not hold it against us when our mind gets broken. She also said that Dad, although very private about his spirituality, was one of the most godly men she’d known. Her gift to me was a new gratitude for my parents…and what a long-term gift our friendship has been!
The second gift came early this morning when I clicked on an e-mail from daughter Lenora in Tucson. She and Steve had sent a gift in our name to World Vision to clothe many children in poverty-stricken parts of the world. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25: 34-36 that when He returns to earth, He will say to those who have obeyed him: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was…naked, and ye clothed me….”
Our gift from Lenora and Steve helps us to obey the command of Jesus. What an eternal reward is ours–and theirs.
The third gift came by phone just minutes ago from a good friend, Dr. Jerry Rusher, who is spending his second Christmas without his dear wife. On Sunday he confessed that he felt sad and depressed and asked for prayer. Several of us gathered around, and I prayed out loud for him.
He called this morning to thank me for that prayer. I don’t even remember what I said, but God heard. He lifted the sadness and restored Jerry’s energy. He is excited about his children coming on Christmas morning. He’s eagerly anticipating upcoming mission trips to Africa and Haiti, where he will help native doctors and patients. Most exciting of all to him was finding that he could carry some much-needed medical tests with him to Haiti. The tests will cost one dollar apiece and will help who knows how many people who otherwise would suffer needlessly.
I am thrilled for our friend, but I am more thrilled for the gift: the opportunity to see God at work, once again, in response to our prayers.
And now I’m headed for the mall. But I already know that anything I buy there will disappoint or eventually wear out. The gifts that make me truly happy are gifts like these three I’ve already received.
My wish for you is that your Christmas too will be blessed by the intangible gifts of friendship, peace, and helping others.