Girlfriends in God - Dec. 3, 2008

December 3, 2008 
Long Walk Part of Gift 
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth 
“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2: 1 NIV).

Friend to Friend 
An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day.  “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty.  “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she gently fingered the gift.

The youth told her there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found.  When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

“Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”

I just love that story.  During this holiday season, I watch as people scurry about swiping those plastic cards through the credit card machines faster than a speeding bullet.  Yet, God has already shown us that the most precious gifts can not be bought or sold.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

The magi also knew about the joy of giving.  While they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, they also gave another gift…a long walk.  We don’t know how far the magi traveled, but we do know it took months, perhaps years for them to reach their destination.  Their long walk was part of the gift.

I wonder how far we are willing to go to worship Jesus…to bring our gifts to him.  I wonder how far out of the way we will go to praise him.  Do we only give to Him when it is convenient or easy?  Or do we give what He wants most – a portion of our selves, our very lives.

I think the little African boy had the right idea.  The real gift wasn’t the shell.  The real gift was the sacrifice he made to give it that was so precious.

Let’s Pray 
Dear God, thank You for the gift You gave us through your Son, Jesus Christ.  I pray that I will keep gift giving in perspective this holiday season and give gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook.  Help me to see that a “long walk,” or a portion of me, is the greatest gift of all.

In Jesus’ Name, 

Now It’s Your Turn 
Describe a time when someone’s sacrificial gift meant a lot to you.

Describe the feeling you had when you gave a portion of yourself, such as your time, to someone.

Try to imagine the teacher who received the shell. What thoughts do you think came to mind when she looked at it year after year?  Do you think it was the shell itself, or the heart of the boy who gave it to her?

Now, imagine how God looks at our gifts we give to Him.  Do you think He reflects on the gifts themselves or the heart of the child who gives it?

More from the Girlfriends: 
It is hard not to get caught up in the pre-Christmas swirl of activity and to lose focus on what’s important.  If you would like ways to keep Jesus the focus of your holiday season, you’ll love Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes.  It’s packed with helpful ideas and inspiration. 

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Originally published Wednesday, 03 December 2008.