Years ago, I noticed a pattern with a person in our home (who shall remain nameless). He was notorious for last-minute Christmas shopping. This often meant running out a few days before Christmas looking for gifts, last-minute ordering, and staying up late to wrap presents in whatever gift wrap was left over.
One could question how thoughtful such gifts are or be upset when there is only a picture of the gift when you open the box. Is last-minute shopping a reflection of the shopper’s lack of caring? The reality is, with this person, it did not reflect poor intentions or the level of care he put into his giving.
Still, it took me a while to embrace these last-minute shopping tendencies and the potential outcomes that came with them, and not see it as a personal slight. (He is, by the way, a very good gift-giver!) Rather, it was important to remind myself that the real gift was a loving relationship with someone I care about, and who cares about me. I came to embrace what was more valuable so that regardless of what gifts I did or did not receive, I was thankful to have the gift-giver. Over the years, I found even my wish list moved away from “things” and towards personal interaction and moments or events together. I’ve come to care less about the gifts and more about those whose time and presence I enjoy.
This caused me to reflect on my relationship with the Lord. How often do I desire the gifts God can give me (healthy children, financial stability, fruitful ministry) more than my relationship with him? How much more am I tempted to pray for him to bless me in a specific way than for the gift of his presence? Do I give to the Lord with the expectation of what he will give to me in return?
Too often, we are tempted to find value in the wrong things. We can find joy and delight in gifts as long as they never replace the value we find in the gift-giver. This season delight yourself in The Giver of Gifts. You will then be able to delight in the other gift-givers in your life: your 7-year-old son who makes you a clay bowl in school, a spouse who is a last-minute buyer, or a neighbor who drops off a plate of cookies and stays for two hours(!). In a season where it is so tempting to measure love by the gifts being given, remind yourself to delight in the giver.