11 August, 2005

I found this online at http://www.salvationarmyaac.com. It really touched me. I was reminded again of two important things. Though I may be a wonderful gift, the gift is not the important thing. It is the giver (in this case, the Giver) who is important and the things that the Giver is trying to say with his gift. Am I, therefore, communicating what God wants to say through me? SO, I am not important and I have a message to communicate. This really impacted me in ways I really can't communicate. I felt so special...humbled...challenged...encouraged...many seemingly contradictory feelings, but over all I was amazed, once again, by grace.

"I Am A Gift"
By Lt. Colonel Check Yee (R)

How are you doing in your Christmas gift shopping?

It was the week before Christmas. Mike and Liz were busily wrapping gifts in the living room. Beautiful ribbon and wrapping paper s were all over the floor. Their seven-year-old daughter, Jenny, picked up all the odds-and-ends and wrapped herself in them: ribbons in her hair, paper around her little body. Suddenly she seemed to be aware of something and yelled out, "Mommy and Daddy, look! I am a gift!"

Jenny's mom and dad beheld their sweet and innocent girl. Her mom gazed at her daughter with much affection and said, "Yes, honey, you are a gift to us from God."

God not only gives us as a gift to people around us, but He, above all, gave us as a gift to "us." Life comes from God. His Holy Spirit breathed into us and we became a living being, a miracle, a gift!

A gift is something one gives to another as an expression of love. It is supposed to make others happy even when the receiver doesn't deserve it. On the other hand, you can't force people to give you a gift because it must be a voluntary act.

The birth of Jesus Christ is God's greatest gift ever given to mankind since creation. "God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son... ," not because we are lovable. On the contrary, He simply, unconditionally loved us. Why is that? Because we are created by Him. He knows our nature is nothing but dust and selfish thought which can harm our body and soul. The Incarnation of Jesus into this world revealed God's mercy and set before us an example of righteousness, so that "whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) this is what Christmas is all about - a gift from God.

Jesus' trip to this earth was full of risks. He knew that, but His love was so intense. Yet people didn't appreciate it and nailed Him on the cross.

To remind ourselves of the cruel fact of His sacrifice during this joyous season doesn't seem to match. But without accepting His salvation offer and nailing our "old self" together with His cross, Christmas is incomplete. Therefore, from Christmas to Easter is a series of events that makes our celebration this month one of true peace and perfect harmony. You can't just take Christmas, reject repentance, and then rise in the glory of Easter. Hallelujah!

Years ago, I liked to keep the Christmas tree until Easter. I trimmed off all the branches and needles, keeping only the trunk. I cut the trunk in two and tied them together to make a cross. It reminded me that Christmas and Easter were meant for each other. One without the other will not do.

One Christmas I received a strange gift. It took two of my grandchildren to drag it into the living room. Believe it or not, it was a 25-pound bag of brown rice! I don't think it was the children's idea because their choices were focused only on toys (before the computer era). But the parents knew better that brown rice was healthy for the grandfather.

"The Bread of Life!" This thought appeared in me simultaneously. Jesus said to the Jews, "Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But there is the Bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die." (John 6:49,50) Then at the climax, he said, "I am the Bread of Life!"

"Mommy and Daddy, look! I am a gift!" said Jenny. Am I also a gift? A gift to "me " and those around me? Am I a gift of joy and blessing to others? Oh, remember the little boy who gave Jesus five loaves of bread and two fish, and 4,000 hungry people were fed? Was he a gift!

This Christmas, be a gift and give yourself in a "self-denial offering" to our brothers and sisters in Africa. It will be the greatest expression of Christ's love.

"Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is the Christ."
Luke 2:11

The Salvation Army San Francisco Asian American Corps
salvationarmyaac.com/html/__lt__col__yee.html December 10, 2000

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