I should have a trophy on my shelf that says, “Worlds Worst Waiter.” By “waiter” I don’t mean the person at the restaurant that brings your food. I was actually ridiculously good at that (and prideful about it). I’m referring to simply waiting in life. Patience is a virtue, and it’s a virtue that I have had to learn throughout life.
When I was a child we would spend Christmas Eve at my grandparents house every year. The tradition was that after dinner the entire family would crowd into my grandparents living room and grandma would crawl (quite literally some years) under the tree and get out the gifts to give to one person at a time. Three children, three spouses, and 8 grandkids meant this took forever to open your presents. So my cousin and I would “sneak” into the living room during dinner and get our presents out and hide them behind the chair we were going to sit by so we could open our presents quicker. No one was fooled. No sneaking had been accomplished. But we did get to cut down our waiting time.
One year we took this to the extreme. We found out presents wrapped in a bedroom closet at Thanksgiving. Like any seven year old boy, we thought we could open them, see what we got, and rewrap them unknown to others. So that’s what we did. We were incredibly surprised that Christmas Eve to be given all of our presents FIRST! Finally, everyone was getting with our plan. But when we opened them, they were all empty boxes. Every one of them. The last one with a note: “To little boys who peak.”
Now, we eventually received our gifts, but we also received a lesson that year. Waiting is not a bad thing.
But as I look back at my life, waiting wasn’t my worst skill — receiving was. I was worse at receiving than giving. I know this because I do not remember a single gift I ever received on Christmas Eve with my family. Not a single one. I do however, vividly remember that one gift that I did not get. A laser tag gun. All of my cousins had brothers to play with, so they got laser tag. I had a sister, and so laser tag eluded me that year, which meant that the remainder of Christmas Eve night and the rest of Christmas vacation, all of my cousins played laser tag while I watched.
I don’t remember a single gift I received, but I vividly remember that which I did not receive.
Unfortunately, many of us are bad receivers. For whatever reason, we do not recognize, appreciate and remember what God has given us. We don’t remember what he’s given us in our family, we don’t remember what he’s given us in our health, our jobs, or our friends. Most of all, many of us go day after day and year after year without truly remembering what we’ve received in Jesus.
As I studied Luke 2 this year, I saw 4 responses of a true receiver of God’s gift of Jesus. I hope that you’ll receive these and thus that your receiving of Jesus this Christmas (or whatever season you read this in) will be strengthened and you’ll find joy in God’s gift to you.
• Mary Received Jesus by Treasuring and Pondering upon him. (Luke 2:19)
• The Shepherds Received Jesus by Glorifying and Praising God for him (Luke 5:20)
• Simeon Received Jesus by being Content with whatever else he received (Luke 2:28-32)
• Anna Received Jesus by being Thankful and Declaring him to others (Luke 5:36-38)
May we be people who see Jesus as the greatest gift ever given and may our lives respond by; treasuring and pondering him, glorifying and praising him, becoming content in all other things, and by being overcome with thankfulness to the degree that we must declare him to others.
Let’s be good receivers of Christmas this season.