The Gifts We Give

Several years ago, I saw a nativity in Mozambique. It was June, the sun was high, and it was approximately 95 o F (35 o C). All in all, I was somewhat surprised to come across several knee-high figures that made the nativity set.  They had beautiful black faces carved in wood. The wise men and shepherds brought useful gifts, such as a huge bunch of bananas or bamboo for firewood or construction. I loved it! The local artists had adapted the nativity scene to their surroundings and made it their own. He came to his own and they received him. 

Truth be told, these gifts make much more sense. Originally, gold, frankincense, and myrrh that was given to the new mother to celebrate the birth of the Man Christ Jesus, the mediator between God and men. (2 Tim 2:5) 

I wonder how Mary felt about them. Did she value these treasures fit for a king, or did she long for a homemade meal and clean towels?

What kind of gifts would Jesus appreciate? What does he want from me?

If you’ve been Christian for more than 15 minutes, you know the right answer to that one: He wants my heart. Pure and simple. 

But I find that I tend to give him a heart-shaped container filled with wants and needs. I stuff my heart-shaped box with ministry. Concerns. Ideas that I want him to bless. Ambitions. Directions, even. All while the cry of my inner being is Search me, o God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. (Ps 139:23)

I wonder what gifts I have fit for a King.

Is it time? Gratitude? Praise? 

Acts of mercy? Loving the broken-hearted? Giving to the poor? 

What flows from my heart? What do I have to give? 

The last month of December, I have been receiving gifts every day. My interns – past and present – decided to surprise me with a Christmas calendar. Every single day I have received words of acknowledgement, thanks, prophetic words, and encouragement. They have painted beautiful cards, baked sweets and treats, sent me music and books. Every single day throughout the month of December I have been lavished with love. 

Little by little, it began to seep in. After a week or so, I began to believe what they were saying about me. I embraced their affection. They will never ever know how healing it was for my heart.

I wonder what I have to give Jesus in this very season. What do I have in my heart now that wasn’t there a year ago? What can I give to my King?

Maybe the question should be What am I holding on to? Is it the firewood to keep me warm and the food for my sustenance? Is it the treasures intended for royalty or the words of the wise men? What do I refuse to let go of? 

What is my utmost for His highest – in this season?

As I stumble toward the manger, I still don’t know what to give him. Except for a longing heart. A yearning for more. A gratefulness that abounds. Wordless, tear-filled prayers.  A fragrance of worship. 

That’s all I have. 

Then again, that’s all he wants.