It’s the middle of the merry month of May, but this week I find myself thinking of Christmas. I don’t know why, but I suppose it has something to do with those Hallmark TV ads where they are talking about their summer movie series of Christmas movies.
But anyway, Christmas is on my mind. And this week there are two memories that come to mind:
First, I think about one photograph taken at one of our Christmases years ago when my two sons and our son-in-law all were wearing the same shirt-and-tie sets given to them by my mother-in-law, their grandmother. When asked about these ties, particularly, she laughed and said she bought them at a thrift store because she saw them and liked them. If one was good, then three would be better.
She then decided to give them to our sons all at the same time in the same year. The boys thought it was hilarious and put them on so we could take a picture and have that record for posterity!
The second memory is of several years of Christmas parties where the main event at the party was something called a “White Elephant Gift Exchange.” Have you ever gone to or participated in one of those?
For the uninitiated, a “White Elephant Gift Exchange” is one of those parties held normally at Christmastime when usually level-headed and normal people go wild over something that is often worthless. The gifts are opened one at a time in front of everybody present for all to see and then everybody present has an opportunity to “steal” those gifts for themselves and hopefully keep them until the end of the game.
The quality of the gifts varies. They could be very good or expensive (usually there is a dollar limit on the gift) or they could be virtual trash. The basis of the gifts exchanged is that they look good on the outside but they could be a mess on the inside.
One Christmas my bride and I attended one such party where the “most stolen” gift was a little ceramic chicken. Another time it was a cute little fluffy snowman, stuffed and with bells attached. Everybody was going bonkers over these seemingly useless gifts that their donors had gladly characterized as something that looked good on the outside but was a mess on the inside.
The truth is that someone saw value in something that to someone else was worthless.
You know, white elephant gift exchanges may only occur at Christmas time, but there could be a parallel to how some of us feel each and every day all year round.
On the outside we may look OK, singing and celebrating with everyone else, but inside we are hurting and heartbroken, tormented by whatever is going on in our lives. Burdened down by family issues, work issues, financial woes, or whatever, we go about with that smile on our faces, but inside our hearts are aching.
We find ourselves getting depressed and feeling worthless and of little to no value to anyone else.
If you find yourself in that situation, today I have a good word for you. Did you ever think that God may have felt just like that on that first Christmas? Everyone is celebrating the birth of His Son, but He knows what that life will be like for that child. The visitors to that newborn baby in the manger saw a stable, but God saw a cross.
It may seem odd to you that we are talking about this in May, but the reality is that you and I killed his son with our sin, but no one cares more deeply for you and I than God does. He sent His Son to die for YOU! That simply means that you and I can live today in a positive manner because we are loved.
Did you hear that? YOU ARE LOVED! God loves you and cares much about how you feel today!
Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.