Gift

Are there people in this world who feel like a gift to others? And I don’t mean the obnoxious people who spend all of the conversation talking about themselves or the men/women who take advantage of their good looks to prey on others or the people convinced by some self-help guru that if they say it enough times it will be true. Rather, I would love to have a discussion with someone so grounded in faith and filled with God’s grace that they consider their very personhood another miracle of God’s creation. After all, isn’t it? And aren’t we all such miracles? The Bible teaches us that God looked at humans upon creation and declared them VERY good. It also says that God formed us in the womb and was willing to die on a cross to bring us into union with the Divine. Whether literal or literary, these ideas point to a God that thinks we are pretty special. Why then do so many of us feel anything but special? And isn’t it a problem if billions of God’s gifts to the world are not aware of it? This Christmas, maybe the most important thing that any of us can give is ourselves. After all, the first Christmas gift ever was a human being.

I imagine that Jesus was a person who recognized the gift of his personhood. I don’t say this because he was God and Savior in the flesh. We are often too quick to forget his humanity, and in this case it would be especially unhelpful to do so. Jesus was both fully human and fully Divine, and as a human he would have had the same doubts and insecurities as the rest of us. But his connection with the Divine and his sense of purpose would have given him a quiet confidence that he mattered. That his life was important. And knowing such, he would have had a sense of value about his time and his own worth. Jesus would have known that his life was a gift and that each moment he had was a present. And he would have been loathe to sell either cheap. Rather, just the opposite. Because of his great love, he would have given both freely and generously in times and places where the impact would be greatest. And he did…all the way to the cross.

Isn’t Jesus then our example of how to realize the gift that is us? He did so in ways that each of us can emulate. He had a connection with the Divine and a sense of purpose. Each of us can cultivate a connection with God that culminates in a sense of purpose and an understanding of how we are uniquely equipped to accomplish that purpose. We can start by centering our life on God, as Jesus did. In practical terms, that means creating a relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, church attendance, or any other method that is meaningful to us. And it means making every decision based on pleasing God because our relationship with the Divine is what we care about most. Of note, our belief is not required to begin this journey of faith. For many of us, it begins in a place of desperation. We drop to our knees in emptiness, not belief. But our emptiness can be filled with God’s own faith and hope. When we are empty, there is room for God to grow.

My own journey began: “God I don’t know if you are even there. But I will pretend that you are. And if you are, please help.”

Once we have a connection with the Divine, we can begin to explore our purpose. The simplest way to know our purpose is to know our gifts: those special talents we have to make the world a better place. The Bible refers to such talents as spiritual gifts and they range from teaching, to healing, to peacemaking. Once we know what we are good at and do well naturally, we can derive our purpose from using them at what interests us and brings us joy. Attending a spiritual gifts workshop, taking a test online, and meeting with the Pastor are all ways to discover our talents. However, perhaps the easiest way is to identify things that 1) we do well; 2) we do without difficulty; 3) we enjoy; and 4) people compliment us about. Those things are sure to be our gifts.

And our purpose is to use them! Our gifts make us a gift to others. We need to follow the example of Christ by knowing our own worth and value. And by sharing ourselves with a world in need. We should not sell ourselves short or waste our talents by not using them. Rather, we should follow his example of radical generosity and give the gift of ourselves. We must discover, embrace, and be the special people God made us to be. And if we do that, maybe we can cultivate an attitude about gifts this holiday season that is truly Christ-like. Instead of focusing on presents under the tree, we can stare in wonder at the person in the mirror and the people on the street. We can give thanks for the baby in the manger and the babies that we see. We can celebrate each person, including ourselves, as a gift from the Creator and be thankful for us all. In the words of Tiny Tim: A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!

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