Anticipating the Gift We Already Have

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Advent is a little like waiting for spring training to start. Now I can hear some of you moaning and groaning  — you, who, like my wife, can’t stand that I’m bringing up baseball again … in December. But here’s the deal: spring training tickets go on sale this month, and I’ve been making a habit of driving out to Tempe, Arizona for a weekend in March and watching three games guilt-free. Well, it’s my Christmas present; I gotta do it.

Poor Marti has herself to blame for this. She started it all off a few years ago by surprising me with a spring training package for Christmas. That’s where you get the airline ticket, the fancy hotel, the Angel hat, T-shirt, and backpack, and a barbecue with some of the players thrown in. The next year, however, I found out it was much more affordable to buy the experience in pieces. I’ve already got the paraphernalia, and I can pass on the barbecue. So I get the tickets in December, reserve two nights in a cheap motel in January, and in March, it’s the gas to get there and back and a few meals. Not to mention, I love a road trip, and I get to have breakfast on Friday and dinner on Sunday at the Steak ’n’ Cakes in Blythe, California. Now you can’t beat that!

The only problem with this is that I kind of have my hands all over my Christmas present, and Marti likes surprises, so this necessitates a little game-playing of its own. A few days ago I had the thought that perhaps they might already have tickets on sale and I should probably check it out but never got around to it. Then, when Marti asked me to find something she needed in her purse, and I came across some papers with the Angel logo visible, I knew she had already gone ahead and ordered the tickets. So now I know; and as soon as she reads this, she’ll know I know. Does any of that take away the surprise for Christmas? Not a bit. I can’t wait. Just knowing that those tickets are already secured and waiting for me brings me great joy any time I think of it.

In eleven short days, we will be celebrating the best news the world has ever known — that God sent His son to earth to pay the price for our sins so He could be free to love us, and on December 25, we celebrate His coming. Does the fact that we know this take away from the surprise? No. Does the fact that we anticipate the coming of someone who has already come take away from the anticipation? No. Because the news is so miraculous, so unexpected, so preposterously good, so not something we would ever come up with, that we can never get to the bottom of it. That’s why we have Advent. We celebrate this visitation of God every year, and anticipate its coming. We take the opportunity, prior to Christmas, to emphasize the hope, peace, joy and love that Christ brings.

On Christmas, I can’t wait to open the gift I already have, and be genuinely surprised on a totally earthly level. (Thank you, Santa, and thank you, Marti.) And infinitely better, we will also open the greatest gift the world has ever known — the gift we already have — and be full of the hope, peace, joy and love that gift brings, without which we would be utterly hopeless. Thank you, Lord, and Merry Christmas everyone!

ADVENT QUESTION (Marti wants to know…)

From time to time, God will give you a gift you dared not even ask for. Describe a time when you received a gift that was truly from God that you least expected.

[Use the Reply box below to answer the question.]

From Friday’s Question: A Clarence Story

I had the pleasure of a Clarence experience.  Some friends at church were wondering how they would pay their rent that month.  My husband agreed we should help, so we asked our next-door neighbor, whom they did not know, to go up a couple of blocks and take some money to their home.  We didn’t want to give them the money ourselves because we didn’t want it to be about us, but about God’s blessing.  

Years later, we were conversing in a group and they told another friend the story of how they needed rent money and a little old lady they didn’t know came to the door with the exact amount they needed (which I hadn’t known!), and they felt so blessed and definitely considered it a “God thing.”  And I felt so humbled that God let me hear them tell the story so much later – that was an encouragement to me.  What a fun secret to keep, and what a great blessing to be part of a blessing!  

 Lisa

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2 Responses to Anticipating the Gift We Already Have

  1. Kat says:

    We can never have enough baseball! It is like roses in December–which we Californians are spoiled enough to have 😉

  2. Marc says:

    John,

    You have me thinking of gifts, and one gift I have been given is that of storytelling. I get these ideas for stories, (none published yet) but when I do get the inspiration, it gives me joy and also pleases me to share them with others. Once when I gave a copy of one of my stories, I was surprised to know it lifted somebody at work out of a deep sadness.

    Recently, on February, I was thinking of the song Puff the Magic Dragon, and how it always depressed me on how it ended. Poor Puff! Nobody should be left alone and friendless like that. I have known that pain, and it is unbearable! It was then that I got an inspiration for a new verse. I wish I could contact Peter or Paul one day and share it with them, as it seems to complete the song. I’ll share the verse with you.

    Yet in the midst of sorrow
    Puff had a big surprise,
    A little girl with golden curl
    And wonder in her eyes…

    And so for our good dragon
    The story starts anew;
    Fresh adventures begin with brand new friends
    Who knows? One might be you!

    Please send me an email. I would like to send you a story I wrote years ago about a broken heart that needed a friend, and his request was granted in a surprising way. It is called “Tidings of Comfort and Joy.” I think it would cheer you up in this Advent season.

    Merry Christmas,
    Marc

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