2018-12-05 / Religion

‘What a Shopping Trip!’

Inspiration

With our tree brightly glowing with lights and beautiful decorations placed around, it is obvious that we have entered into the Christmas season. Plans are in place, and our schedule is becoming fuller as we make our way through this joyous season. One of our traditional activities that we enjoy with the girls is our annual shopping trip for kids that might not get much for Christmas. Sometimes we know who we are buying for; at other times we might only know their age and gender. Either way, the girls seem to get as much pleasure out of giving to others as we do.

To make sure that time did not slip up on us, Gale and I decided to make the yearly event as early in the season as possible. So Tuesday evening we piled five little girls — who are not so little anymore — into the car to take care of our mission of love. It seems like such a short time ago that they were so small and dependent on us, but now they are young ladies who really know how to shop (I even heard one of them use the word “budget” while deciding what to buy!).

We gave the girls instructions as to how much each of them could spend and some ideas about what the two children that we were buying for liked. Then they paired up — Anna Beth teamed with Addy, Mallory shopped with Jaleah, Madeline (as always) stuck by Papa’s side, while Nana served as referee, coach, and guide--and the shopping was on. They quickly found the items that they felt sure would bring joy to those to whom they would give the gifts. Even at their young age, they are quite efficient little shoppers; I was impressed with their choices.

It was a fulfilling evening spent with those five as we watched their enthusiasm about doing something good for someone other than themselves. I was glad to hear Madeline remark the next day that she was glad that we were able to buy gifts for those two special kids. I agree with her; that little family certainly has gone through some significant personal challenges in recent weeks.

Among the memories that our little girls will someday share with their children, I hope they will tell about the special shopping trips they had with Nana and Papa and the joy they got when they did good for others. But I hope they will also remember that our greatest acts of kindness are minuscule in comparison to God’s great gift to humankind — His gift of Jesus Christ Who came to give us hope when there was absolutely none.

In the early days of Christ’s earthly ministry, a man by the name of Nicodemus initiated an inquiry with Messiah as he sought to learn more about Him and His mission. As the conversation unfolded, the Teacher presented a concept to Nicodemus that surely baffled his mind; the Lord spoke about something that He called being born again. It was in the setting of that conversation that we find the description of the gift from God to humankind that surpasses all other gifts: “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, New International Version).

Of all the memories and reminders we have during this season, let us all keep the focus on God’s great gift to us. It is only in Christ that we can know the joy of the new birth--spiritual birth-- that grants us the promise of eternal life.

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