Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father who does not change like shifting shadows.
- James 1:17
he little voice on the other end of the line was raspy, but the excitement was impossible to disguise.
Know what I got for Christmas, Grandma? A rifle. Know what else I got? Chicken pox!
That was the year my list included: one new wallet, 17 loaves of bread, 24 boxes of cookies, and 13 pounds of candy. Know what else I got? The flu and all the fixings: fever, cough, sore throat, and the urge to vomit every time I saw those 17 loaves of bread, 24 boxes of cookies, and 13 pounds of candy. However, those bouts with chicken pox and the flu meant my grandson and I completely understood each others best-of-times, worst-of-times Christmas - minus the matching excitement in my voice.
By the way, know what I didnt get that Christmas? Sympathy. Almost everyone I knew had the flu. For once no one competed for the most gifts, or the best decorated house in town. Instead, we vied for top honors in flu symptoms.
My temperature was 105, boasted one. You should hear my cough, said another, only to be upstaged by the woman who coughed so much she mistook the pain in her side for a gall bladder attack.
f my grown-up grandson and I were comparing notes this year, perhaps neither of us would be describing our what-I-got lists by sight and quantity alone. My list, for example, isnt filled so much with what I received, but with what I already had. Though my larder isnt as full of material gifts as it was a dozen years ago, neither do I have the flu or any other known, debilitating disease. To paraphrase an Old Testament shepherd, good health is just one of the reasons my Christmas cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5). Here are a few more:
The Apostle James reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17), and that we should request such gifts only from Him. One of his gifts is wisdom. According to James, If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God for it and it will be given to him (James 1:5). James doesnt mean God doles out perfect knowledge to anyone who asks - and He certainly hasnt done that for me - but that if we want good wisdom, we need to request it from the One whose wisdom is perfect. To look elsewhere is to settle for a far inferior brand.
Peace I leave with you, not the peace the world gives, but my peace I give to you. Dont let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). Jesus, who was about to endure the agony of the crucifixion knew all about outward turmoil. He also knew that a calm, untroubled life depends on the condition of our heart, not on the circumstances of our world.
Children might believe the gifts they receive depend on whether theyve been naughty or nice, but Jesus said it has more to do with how willing we are to be givers ourselves. Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, and running over. For with the measure you use, the same will be given to you (Luke 6:38). As with all Scripture, this verse isnt complete by itself, and Im astounded by what Ive received in proportion to what little Ive given away. But again, its not what or how much we give, but whether or not we are cheerful givers (II Corinthians 9:7).
y list could go on much longer, but suffice it to say all Gods gifts are good. They are also unbreakable (on His part), enduring, and available to anyone who requests them - especially the gift God gave the whole world on that first Christmas Day:
For God so loved the world (substitute your name) that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free lance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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