Driving through a rural part of our county with crimson red leaves, and seeing the trees reflected in a placid mirror-finished Lake Lavon brought back all the memories of my childhood Christmas’ at my grandparents in the country. The church Kimberly and I visited sang the traditional Christmas hymns ending with Go Tell It On the Mountain. These experiences, coupled with the first good dose of arctic air, caused the Christmas season to burst into life for me. It truly put me into the Christmas spirit!
Thinking back on Christmas’ past at my grandparents’ farm, brought to mind a funny, tragic at the time, memory. My family and I lived in southeast Louisiana, near New Orleans. Every year, the plan was to leave when my dad got home from work. There was always the last-minute rush to get all the presents wrapped and the car packed as soon as he pulled into the driveway.
The plan was to drive all night and get to Papa and Granny’s house for breakfast. Now back then, it was an 11-hour grueling drive. My sister and I would fight and fuss in the back seat, asking every hour, “Are we almost there?” Like all little sisters, to amuse herself she would poke me just to get me to react. As soon as I reacted, we both learned my dad could reach every corner of the car with his right hand while his left one was on the wheel!
It was worth the long drive and the back seat gymnastics though. When we burst through granny’s kitchen door, she always had homemade biscuits, black-pepper sausage gravy and scrambled eggs ready, and best of all were granny’s hugs. Pa-pa would always pop his bridge out and make my sister squeal. We would unpack the car and put the presents on the big spruce tree.
One particular Christmas there was a crimson red box under the tree with my name on it. I saw it when we packed the car and knew it was back there all 11 hours in the car. I couldn’t wait to open it because I just knew it was the cap gun I circled in the Sears catalog—it had to be. I loved the gunpowder smell those paper caps made, and this one would load a roll of 100 caps! My parents hinted I was getting it. I just couldn’t wait!
Christmas Eve came and the whole family, all the Uncles, Aunts, and cousins, gathered at Granny’s. The table was full of fudge, divinity, oranges, and nuts. As much as I liked candy, all I cared about now was the big, red box. I kept asking, can we open the presents now? Instead, Granny sat at the piano, and we sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing and then Silent Night. Finally, she stopped and said, let’s open presents.
I already had my hands on the big, crimson red box and tore the lid off in a rush. I pulled the paper out looking for the present. I kept tossing the paper around; my face screwed up in puzzlement. The box was empty! Eventually, I noticed the torn out page from the Sears catalog with a picture of the cap gun. I burst into tears (remember I was only six years old). My grandad told me to stop blubbering like a calf that lost its mother. My parents explained it was on backorder, but all I knew was, I had an empty box!
To be fair to my parents, they did everything they could to get me my Christmas wish. They had ordered and paid for it in time. They had really, really hoped the empty box with a promise would be good enough for now. Since I was their first six-year-old, they couldn’t know better.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV
What does this have to do with the Christian life? We know how commercial Christmas has become and that it is not really about cap guns and red boxes. But it is all about gifts!
God gave us his son Jesus so that we could have life. God’s plan is to extend that gift of life to every girl, boy, woman, and man. Everyone who receives the gift of Jesus is supposed to share that gift with their friends, relatives, and neighbors.
Ephesians is not often associated with Christmas, but it speaks exactly of this fact—we are the boxes in which God placed his gift. The passage says we are God’s workmanship. He fashioned us to be the box in which the gift of Jesus is presented to those around us. We are “the big red box.” It is why God made us.
All of this has me thinking what kind of box under the tree am I to my friends, relatives, and neighbor? When they open my life will there be a real gift, the promise of a gift, or simply an empty box? My Christmas prayer and New Year Hope is that all our boxes will be full of Jesus!
CBA Church Network lives for the day when every girl, boy, woman, and man experiences a living witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ!