Wednesday, December 16, 2015

4th Truth of Christmas- Gifts in Disguise


Have you ever tried to wrap a gift that is perfectly shaped to tell the recipient exactly what they are getting? You stare at it a moment, trying to figure out how to disguise the gift. This has become almost an art form at my house, you would not believe the things we have used to disguise presents.

The best part is seeing the look of surprise and delight on someone's face when they open your disguised gift. They think they are getting one thing, but instead, they end up with something entirely different.

Does this sound familiar?

When most Jews in Israel thought of the Messiah, they pictured a strong warrior king who would save them from the grip of Rome. Who in their right mind would have expected the Messiah to come as a fragile newborn? I can almost just see God chuckling to Himself as He took everyone by surprise.

The Greatest Gift that was ever given came in a disguised package.

Can't you just hear the people saying, "But God, what good is a baby going to do? We need a King, a warrior! Why are you sending someone who needs to be fed, changed, and put down for a nap every two hours?"
It would have been hard to comprehend how a baby could solve the problems that the folks of Judea faced in their time.

Have you ever gotten a gift that seemed useless at the time, but then later, after you had used it, it became one of your favorite gifts you ever received?

I can remember being about eight or nine, and I received three books on tape. When I first opened the present, I felt a great sinking of disappointment in my soul. Hooray, some boring looking cassette tapes. But later on, when I started listening to them, I realized what a treasure I had been given. I gained hours upon hours of pleasure from listening to those tapes over and over again. I received much more pleasure from those tapes than I would have from many other items that gave only short term pleasure. That gift also met many needs in my life, ones that I didn't even know I had until I received the provision to meet them.

Gifts in disguise can come two ways. (1) A gift can appear one way, but in truth, it is something else. (2) We can look at a gift through one perspective and not see the value, but when we shift our perspective, the gift suddenly can take on new meaning and purpose.

When travelers passed by Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus, they would never have expected that the answer to their cries for help was wrapped up in swaddling clothes. They might have smiled at the cute little family, but realize they were staring into the face of their Messiah....never!

And then later, when Jesus did reveal Himself, the people couldn't wrap their brains around the fact that He was not there to save them from Rome, but rather, from sin? No! This could not be, sin was not their problem, Rome was!

Right?

Wrong. Rome was the short-term problem, while sin was the long-term issue. A few in that time had actually done their homework, and were open and ready to receive Jesus when He came to them, even if his appearance took them by surprise. They were prepared to receive the gift. Others didn't learn of their need until they met Jesus, and then, suddenly, it made sense.

Suppose Jesus had actually come in the package people expected. What if He had come wrapped the way everyone expected? If Jesus had come like a King, would He have gotten through to anyone? Would they have even realized their true need for redemption from sin?

Jesus came in a strange and unexpected way. He forced people to rethink their perspectives and priorities. He forced them to also think about the real issues in their hearts, rather than just the temporary issues in their lives. He rescued people in a way they didn't even know they needed rescuing.

Sometimes I have something given to me in life that I don't understand. For instance, this house my family lives in is a mess. It's ugly, cramped, breaking down, and on and on and on. This house doesn't seem like much of a gift. And yet, this house enabled our family to go through a transition that opened up our lives for so much blessing and growth financially. We moved because of a new job opportunity for my dad which has only grown over time.

When I ask God to help me be more patient, I get put in a lot of situations that make my hair curl. And I go to Him whining saying, "This is not what I asked for; this is not what You were supposed to send."
But then, my perspective changes, I am forced to be uncomfortable and to think about things differently. And then....I learn patience.

There are gifts waiting in disguise all around us,  both during this Christmas season, and for the rest of the year. If you think something in your life is one way, look at it again. You might have missed something.

God is all-knowing and unbelievably creative. He knows our needs better than we know them. He has this all figured out. This Christmas, I want to look for gifts in disguise.

Because the disguised gifts, are often the best gifts of all.


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Want to read the other Truths of Christmas? Catch up with 1, 2, and 3.

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