To Have and To Hold

This is the time of year when the thoughts of many turn to family, memories and gifts.

God is a gift-giver. The best one, in fact.

James points to this fact when he writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). There are two different words in the original text for “gift.” The first emphasizes the act of giving, while the second is the actual gift itself.

In essence, not only are his gifts perfect, even the way he gives and reveals his gifts is good. He is as much in the waiting as in the receiving.

It reminds me of my grandmother. Every year at Christmas, she would do the same thing.

We would take turns opening gifts, and when her time came, she would hold her present close and, with agonizing slowness, methodically loosen the tape around the edges, gently slide any ribbon off, bit by bit lift the wrapping paper…all the while smiling at us and saying how pretty the paper was and how well the gift was wrapped. Long minutes would pass.

For us as children, having waited all year for Christmas and this being the final obstacle between us and potential toys, her actions were torturous. We told her to hurry, to get on with it, to rip though the paper and speed through the process to get to the actual gift.

We once thought she wanted to keep the paper for reuse, some holdover of the memory of scarcity during the Great Depression, but that wasn’t it. She told us that the unwrapping could be as good as the gift. She enjoyed the discovery, the slow turn, the anticipation of knowing that something picked out just for her was in her lap. She already owned it; it had been given freely to her, so she could enjoy every little moment, even the unveiling.

Stop and consider this fact: what belongs to you is already under his tree.

It has your name on it. It will be placed it in your hands. You already have it; you just are not holding it yet. He has given, even though what that is may remain unseen for now.

Don’t miss the details of his wrapping. Speeding along, looking to the gift, we ignore the folds, the seams and the patterns, but those things are important and good and perfect. How he chooses to present the gift is no accident or afterthought. And you will have and hold and know and rejoice and recognize the wisdom and grace and love in the unveiling…one day.

After all, the Grand Giver wrapped himself in folds of soft skin some two millennia ago for an unveiling no one could anticipate.

If that most important act of giving his Son can be perfectly orchestrated before the foundation of the world, you can know that your gift is safely in his care as well while you wait with anticipation and hope for what you will have and hold.

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