Sunday, December 25, 2016
What did you give for Christmas?
From the time I was a little boy, Christmas morning was always the time to run out to the tree and find out what you got for Christmas.
After unwrapping everything, the next thing I did was to call my friend's on the phone and find out, "What did you get for Christmas"?
A few years ago, all of that changed for our family. We slowly transitioned from "What did you get?" to "What did you give?"
It started for us about 10 years ago. We had a friend who was a single Mom and she had just had brain surgery to remove a tumor. Her young son had never had a Christmas before, as they were always too poor. So, this year he asked his mom if they could have Christmas for Christmas. Our house church, along with another church group, pooled our resources and bought a tree, lights, ornaments, and decorations. We also bought gifts for both of them, including grocery store cards for $200 worth of food so they could rest easy during the Holiday season.
When we go there we started setting up the tree and decorating. We worked together to decorate their tiny apartment. Then we turned on the lights, sang a few Christmas carols together and shared some hot cocoa.
Before leaving, we all gathering around our friends and we prayed for her to heal from her surgery and for her and her son to know how much God loved them.
Then something unexpected happened. She asked if she could pray for all of us. As she started to pray for us, I began to really understand what giving was all about. Her humble prayers for us were so profound, and beautiful. I found myself wiping away more than a few tears by the time she was finished.
On the way out to our car, I remember turning to Wendy and saying, "That was my Christmas gift. I don't want anything else."
Ever since that night, we have tried to spend our time and our money giving away as many blessings as we can to help others. We already have so much more than we need, and a whole lot more on top of that we don't really need. So, instead of turning Christmas into an excuse to get even more stuff we don't need, we decided to see what we can give away.
This Christmas, along with help from people in our house church and a few others, we were able to give away Christmas gifts to 51 children at the Motel, and to pass out batteries and socks and share hot apple cider with people living along the Santa Ana river bed near Angel stadium in Tent City.
I would encourage everyone to try this at least once. The truth is, we are more blessed by giving away blessings than we ever were when our focus was to receive a blessing.
Honestly, I can barely remember what I got for Christmas all those years ago. But I can promise you that I will never, ever forget all that we have given away for Christmas over the last 10 years; and all the smiling faces and joyful hearts we've been able to touch by simply switching gears from getting to giving.
Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us!
Peace on Earth,