Two ways to make sure you’re giving the best gift

There’s gray clouds and dreary skies, today. A bone-chilling cold that won’t leave, even with a cup of hot tea and fireplace blazing.


Earlier, one of the boys worked hard to light a fire, trying to get the cold out and usher in the warmth we’ve all been waiting for. But even with fireplace blazing, there’s a cold today that won’t go away.


Gray skies darkening corners of the house. My uncle stopped by earlier, shaking the cold and wet off his feet, as he stepped inside.

This has been the coldest day all year. At least it feels that way, he says.

He’d been outside only moments in the dreary cold and stepping inside, tried to warm up by our fireplace. There’s a coldness that can be carried inside. A darkness to be felt. He chased the cold away, warmed by the fire for a while and braved his way back out into a day promising no hint of sun, drizzling skies, and bone-deep cold.

No amount of crackling fire inside can deny the cold rain falling outside.


We spoke of gifts, wrapping up presents, and making sure we’ve checked them all off the list. What else is to be done on a day when you’re chased inside by the cold? We’ve wrapped and gifted and planned. Preparing for a day that will be here sooner than we think. So much preparation. An intense waiting for one day.

So we remember how all of creation prepared for the anticipated day all those years ago. After hundreds of years of silence, generations gone by without a glimpse of his glory. Then an angel shows up and delivers news to a man pondering leaving the young girl who just told him an unbelievable story.

The angel reminds the future husband, future father, of the name of the son to be born.

This Jesus. This Immanuel. This God With Us.

After years and years of silence, are there any three words anyone would rather hear?

God with us. 

A reminder of his sovereignty and his intimacy wrapped up in three words. Wrapped better than any present any ever given.

You can search all your life for the perfect gift and never come up with anything better than those three words. 

So when we’re trying to figure out the best gift to give, we always give those three words. We wrap it differently, present it differently, but always give God and always give ourselves.

So earlier this week, the boy hanging out of the window of the minivan to give cookies and a gift card to the crossing guard we pass every day gives a little bit of those three words away.

Merry Christmas, the blonde-headed boy shouts to the surprised crossing guard. We pass her everyday, but on the day we stop, I pray she sees a little bit of God, given away in a simple gift through us.

Just this morning, all five kids joined in the bedroom, pulling out money they’d all been saving. They count the ones, the fives, even a twenty. They total all the cash, money set aside, marked in an enveloped simply labeled with “God.” Before church, they bring their wad of cash to the Dollar General at the front of street to buy a gift card for a 17-year-old boy whose mom has cancer and little money this Christmas.

It’s a lot of God they’re trying to give.

God with us. 

A friend texted yesterday of going to a nursing home with her children Saturday morning and handing out Christmas cards to the sweet elderly souls living there. There they met a precious lady named Mrs. Ophelia, that she and her children will never forget. They presented her with a book mark, which she promptly used to mark her favorite passage in a well-worn Bible. She places the bookmark against words that give life.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..”


We give God. And we give us.

God with us. 

When you haven’t heard him for a long time, God showing up through people can be the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see. So he comes to the smallest town, to a young girl, to the humblest place. His angel brings beautiful news, proclaimed with the three words that all gift-giving hinges upon.

God with us. 

Every time we say his name, we remember the meaning of Immanuel. He’s God and entirely sovereign. He’s with us. He’s not letting us go. From the beginning of all creation, he’s longed to be with us. In all his sovereignty, he doesn’t lose his desire for intimacy.

So we sing “O come, o come, Emmanuel.”

Come be God with us.

We’ll give Him every where we go. In every gift we give this season, may it be a reminder that we’re giving God. And we’re giving ourselves. We go into lonely places, pushing back against the darkness and the cold and bringing the light and warmth of a Savior whose name reminds us He’s God.

And He’s with us.

God with us.




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