Last Christmas season my son followed me around all morning one day asking me for ideas. He wanted to make a Christmas present for a long list of people. His ten-year-old enthusiasm mirrored mine at age sixteen.
I remember that year. That was the year God surprised me with a question.
I told my son how I used to get a present or at the very least a Christmas card for everyone I knew. It sincerely felt good giving a smile to people or even a shock to others that didn’t think twice about expecting something from me!
God had removed some of the utter selfishness rooted in my heart and my new found change was freeing. And quite exhausting, which resulted in applying some wisdom in focusing the outpouring of love to primarily those closest to me. I shared that part with my son, too.
In the midst of my heartfelt efforts to genuinely give of myself to others, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that I had completely ignored Jesus.
His presence seemed to grow stronger. There is no denying His presence in those moments: a gentle conviction mixed with a passionate call and drawing to His love.
As real as all the tangible relationships in my life, the God that created the universe pulled on my heart.
What are you going to give Me?
Of course, there would be no going to a store, carefully selecting just the right item, and beautifully wrapping the thoughtful choice to give to Jesus. But I knew it mattered just as much.
That’s when He said it:
I want a piece of your heart.
No other present on my list reflected such depth. Would I surrender?
The internal tug of war intensified: my spirit wanted to yield, my soul timid. I wanted to break free from the fear of uncertainty before committing. What if He wanted me to do something radically out of the question.
But He didn’t want me to place boundaries on His eternal wisdom.
I knew He was calling me to say yes before knowing what He would specifically ask. He was testing my willingness to follow Him wherever He leads.
He wanted to break up my normal pattern of holding tightly to my heart when it came to Him or giving it away to the wrong person.
Yes, Lord, but this is kind of…different. This surrendering is difficult, yet I feel something good. What is it?…I think it’s…joy!
The first year, in establishing this “tradition,” He made it clear to me that I could ask what He wanted from me each Christmas. I promised Him that I would ask Him each year, even though it seemed like everyone I told thought I was nuts. More dying to self. It doesn’t matter what people think of me.
One year I gave Him the gift of being careful that I did not get distracted from Him during that holiday season. One year it was promising to study the Bible more. Another year it was to surrender to doing my chores without complaining.
The Lord asked me to help the homeless one year. I said no. He asked again the next year. I said maybe. Finally, after a couple of years of the Lord asking me, I got to the point where I would obey Him and help the homeless.
I don’t even remember them all because they weren’t a temporary action. He’s helped me to make them a true gift—one that I didn’t take back. Those gifts became more of a lifestyle.
Why I Give a Present to Jesus
Have I failed? Yes.
Did I give up my tradition? No.
I’m not a weird religious fanatic inventing a super-spiritual doctrine, but I am in a relationship with my God. Through this yielding my will for His, I’m learning to obey Him.
It’s not always easy to let go of the pieces of my heart, but I get closer to Him when I surrender. That’s made me love this Christmas tradition.
I have other Christmas traditions, too, but those are done with my family. Like decorating, listening to Christmas music, baking cookies, and watching Christmas movies.
Those are meaningful, but don’t compare to the fulfillment I find in growing closer to Jesus.
Lord, may I set my eyes on you. Sweep over my heart and fill me with your love. Help me yield my heart to your hands. Mold me, shape me, make me into your desire. Nothing compares to you. Amen.
What present are you giving to Jesus for #Christmas this year? #thrive Click To Tweet
And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Mark 12:33 ESV
What are your Christmas traditions? And for the bold, what are you giving Jesus this year?
*Linking up with friends