Each year, I try to come up with something special or unusual to give the family on Christmas. Sometimes, I do pretty well. Other times, each Opperman household gets a hot chocolate maker that takes too much time and effort to produce a cup of cocoa that isn’t any better than an instant packet and some hot water.
This year, Yesenia and I were a little busy doing that mission stuff. But while we were out and about, I always had my eyes open looking for inspiration. Then one night, I was reading some of my blogs (somebody has to!) and it hit me: If I strive to follow Jesus’ example in service and forgiveness, why not in Christmas presents, too?
Now I realize that I’m not going to be able to match the whole “Savior of the world” thing, but there are other options. So last night I ventured off to the Mira Flores Mall in the city and asked a sales rep for some help.
“Where do you keep your peace and goodwill toward men?” I asked. Without looking up, he told me, “Mostly it is locked up in the back rooms until January.” Recognizing a grumpy elf when I see one, I ventured off to find another worker.
“Excuse me!” I said, “I am trying to find some joy and good will to give my friends.” The woman looked at me quizzically for a moment. Finally her eyes lit up and she directed me to the local liquor store.
It went on like this for hours. No one seemed to know where to find peace, joy, or good will for others. Pretty much everybody however, knew where there was a good liquor store.
Finally, I gave up and drove home. Yesenia’s sister and our little nephew, Josue, were there. I was a little mopey and depressed that I could not find my perfect Christmas presents. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my back. Josue, who at age 2 is already an aspiring drummer, had whacked me hard with his wooden-spoon drumstick. “No Josue!” I exclaimed and took the spoon from him.
I was giving Josue my stern “your uncle’s in charge” look, when that little pre-crying, lip quiver thing started to happen. But as he looked up at me, his demeanor suddenly changed. His eyes brightened, a smile came to his lips and he spread his arms wide to give me a big hug. As I held him, I remembered moments like this with my own daughters; moments when nothing else seemed to matter except for the embrace of a child. I forgot all about my disappointing shopping excursion. I felt good.
Then I felt another whack. I think it was the Holy Spirit saying, “You get it? Or do I have to spell it out for you some more?” I realized then that I can’t buy Peace, Joy or good will to others. But I can certainly try to give it away with a big ol’ hug. I got up and tried it right then and there with Yesenia and her sister. Both of them smiled wide.
So guess what you all are getting for Christmas? That’s right. Hugs for EVERYbody!!! Now some of you are too far away for me to give you the real deal; so I want you to close your eyes, clear your mind for a minute and consider yourself hugged! There it is. Feeling the Joy?
Not so much? Okay, maybe you need to imagine that someone who loves you even more than me is giving you a hug. The one who loves you enough to leave Heaven and subject Himself to the rigors of an earthly life? Who loves you enough to throw himself in front of the devil’s gun and keep taking the bullet that was destined to destroy your life? Who loves you enough to overlook all of your transgressions, faults and burdens and still invite you to live with Him forever in Paradise?
Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day, humbling Himself to be our Savior. He brought us Joy, Peace, and Good Will to Men. His time on earth was like the biggest hug ever!!! And He is still with you now, and always will be, with an infinite supply of hugs; each filled with patience and joy, peace and good will, unconditional love and salvation. And He wants to share them with you, every day.
Close your eyes and feel the joy of Jesus’ embrace. Feel the peace. Feel the love. Know that He is the best gift ever.
YESENIA & I WISH YOU AND YOURS A BLESSED AND WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS, FULL OF JESUS’ LOVE!