A burgundy, faux leather book with the fancy gold coloring applied to the edge of the pages. My name was imprinted in script on the front cover. Down the spine was written the words “Holy Bible.” It even used red font in the places where Jesus was speaking. It was a gift given to me by my grandmother for Christmas in 1991. It was my first “real” bible. Though I was not yet a Christian, that bible was a treasured gift for me that year. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I knew that book was just what I needed.
I immediately took that Bible and started reading. Per my grandmother’s advice, I started in the Gospel of John. It was written in “ye olde English” so I didn’t understand everything that it said. But I understood enough to recognize that Jesus was someone special. He seemed so approachable, so loving. He was tender enough to bless children, yet fierce enough to clear the peddlers from the temple. I also found him saying things that were concerning – “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
Over the course of the next month, God began to deal with my heart, revealing my sinful nature and bringing me into a place of conviction. I finally saw my sin as God saw my sin, and I realized my need for Jesus. On January 19, 1992, I made my way to the kneeling bench at Bible Way Baptist Church where one of the church’s youth workers led me to put my trust in Christ as my all sufficient Savior.
There were really two gifts given to me that Christmas. One came from my grandmother in the form of a bible, the other came from my Heavenly Father, who adopted me into his family. One was a gift that revealed God’s will to me, the other was a gift that made me into a new creature. One was a gift of instruction, the other a gift of salvation.
Throughout this Christmas season, we have given thought to the notion that God is a gift-giver. Just like an earthly Father, God enjoys giving gifts to us as His children. Sometimes those gifts are physical – you can touch them, experience them. Many of God’s gifts are intangible. Sometimes they have value, sometimes they are priceless. The gift that is closest to the Father’s heart is the gift of salvation. I love 2 Peter 3:9, as it reveals this aspect of God’s character, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
I find it very interesting that children do not instinctively refuse gifts. I’ve never heard of a child deciding to leave a gift with their name on it under the Christmas tree. Children love gifts. (I think adults probably do too.) In our culture, we would probably consider it rude to refuse a gift. Yet for some reason, people every day in every place refuse this gift that has been paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that you have not refused the gift that God has offered to you. The price has been paid. The package has been wrapped. Your name has been written on the tag. But you must extend your hand in repentance and receive the gift in order for it to become yours.
I’m so thankful for that Christmas back in 1991 when I began to consider the great gift of Jesus Christ. I’m so thankful that God saw fit to extend this gift to me. And I am so thankful that I did not refuse it. I hope that this Christmas, you will give thanks to God the Gift Giver who saw fit to give you the greatest gift in the world, the gift of salvation. He didn’t have to do it, but by his great love and mercy, he has given the most priceless gift known to man.