It was the week after Christmas in 1988…I was 5 years old. I had a great Christmas that year, I can’t remember what gits I had gotten, but I do remember I was happy (so all in all, great Christmas). My dad had decided it was time to take down our Christmas tree, pack it up, and put it in the storage until next Thanksgiving, where we would go through the whole Christmas process all over again. I always enjoyed helping Dad out with this task, I don’t know exactly why, maybe because it got me around the biggest role model at that time in my life.

This year was a tad bit different though, it was even better than years before…because it was that year Dad and I made a great discovery:

“What is that,” Dad asked as we took the top part of the tree down. Something was stuck in the branches of the fake tree. Dad may not have known what it was, but I sure did..

“It’s a present!”  I yelled with excitement, hoping that it was for me (I was 5, what did you expect?)

I ran over to my Dad and as I tore that present opened I could a small smile on his face. It was a red robot toy…evidently it was buried in the back of the tree and had gotten stuck in the fake, plastic branches before Christmas, and in the rush and excitement of the morning it had never gotten noticed and was not opened until I found it a week later.

I don’t remember a lot about that robot toy…I don’t know how long I played with it, nor the fate of that Late-Christmas present…but I do remember finding it, opening it, and the inexpressible  joy that I felt that I had a received a gift. I also remember the lesson I learned from that experience:

A gift is not a gift if you don’t open it up.

That gift was picked out by my parents, wrapped with delicate care by their own hands, and placed under the tree with thoughts of how much I would enjoy the present. However, I wonder what would have happened if that gift was never found? I wonder what would have happened if I wouldn’t have opened that gift and received the joy that comes with playing with a new toy?

Does that rip away the title of that red robot being a gift? I don’t think so…at least not entirely…at some level that red robot was intended to be a gift for a little (and cute…ahem) 5 year old boy. Yet, at the same time, if that gift was never opened, even though it was offered as one, it wouldn’t be a fulfilled gift.

The gift of salvation is the same way, isn’t it? I mean, think about it for a second…God, our Heavenly Parent, thought of us while He devised the plan for us to be saved, He wrapped that present up in the act of Jesus’ death and resurrection from the grave, and placed that gift for the whole world to see with thoughts of how much we would enjoy our present (a relationship with Him).

But if we don’t open that gift we cannot be receive the benefits of salvation.

You see, God has presented that gift to EVERYONE…no matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. God thought of you when He died on that cross and resurrected from that grave. Yet not everyone is saved…why? Because they didn’t open the gift, they left it stuck in the tree and all God hopes for is that you find it there.

So how do we open that gift? How do we receive the free gift of God’s salvation?

Psalm 103:17-18, “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”

In other words, anyone who pursues a relationship with God and is faithful to Him shall open that gift and enjoy the benefits of being a child of God.

God has a present for you…it’s time to open it.

Peace, Love, and Soul…

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