I’m sure you can remember some of your favorite Christmas presents ever. One year our parents bought my sister, brother, and me those old-fashioned sleds with the metal runners on the bottom. A few days before, the skies had dropped frozen rain on top a foot of snow, so that the little hill in front of our house was as solid as the pond across the street. The sleds flew like rockets down that icy incline. It was one of the most fun and memorable Christmases of my childhood.
Other Christmas gifts haven’t seemed so wonderful.
Last year, my 18-year-old son wasn’t home for Christmas. Instead, Nick was in a rehab facility six hundred miles away. While his being there was a gift straight from God, it sure felt terrible at the time.
Some gifts are like that. They come wrapped in hardship and layered in pain, and they carry the scents of disappointment and shame. But when you get through all the coverings, the treasures beneath are priceless.
This Christmas, Nick is home, healthy, and sober. He’s already had a number of opportunities to share his testimony of God’s grace in his life, and he’ll have plenty more as he heads off to Youth with a Mission next month. We will miss him terribly during the months he’s gone on his mission trip, but even that will be a gift, knowing that God is using him to bring light to dark places.
Some gifts don’t look like gifts right away. And sometimes, those are the best gifts of all.
Robin Patchen is an award winning multi-published author, but only because she can’t pursue her other dream.
If time and money were no object, Robin would spend her life traveling. Her goal is to visit every place in the entire world–twice. She longs to meet everybody and see everything and spread the good news of Christ. Alas, time is short and money is scarce, and her husband and three teenagers don’t want to traipse all around the world with her, so Robin does the next best thing: she writes. In the tales she creates, she can illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.