My mom and dad used to play “hot & cold” with us sometimes when giving my brothers and I gifts. We loved this as kids. They’d hide our gifts and as we got closer and closer, they’d declare ourselves hotter and hotter until we were burning up, or, the farther away we got, the colder we became. Mom was especially dramatic in her descriptive temperature verbage.
They did not disappoint this year – stepping it up into the 21st century with compass abilities from the Iphone. Dad wrote down the coordinance for different spots, each spot leading my kids closer to the gift (he set this up outside). The kids had a blast searching for their gift, and to tell you the truth, I had just as much fun.
Each Christmas is different. Especially the last few. This Christmas day it was just the kids, my parents, and I. But, as I’m waiting for Jason to come home from work, I am thinking back on it and realize that it was really special. After spending a few hours with mom and dad, the kids and I took a plate of mom’s turkey meal to Jason, about an hour away from my parents’ house. On our way, we listened to the CD my parents gave the kids (Adventures in Odyssey) and we looked at everyone’s Christmas decorations as they passed. We met Jason at his department. He showed the kids around, Noel taking particular interest in the bench where the bad guys sit. We visited with him for his half hour break, then headed home. We didn’t even make it out of Hanover before I took a wrong turn (I can’t see very well at night). The lady in the GPS was giving me recalculations when Jason called me, asking me why I turned when I did. Apparently he was behind me in the police cruiser unbeknownst to me (I hate it when cops follow me). He got me back on track and the kids and I arrived safely at home 45 minutes later.
I miss my family who couldn’t be here today, but life is good. And it is ever changing. I am reminded over and over again to not hold too tightly to what God has given me. That what we are given should be held up to him as a gift in return, to be used however he would want to use it. That includes our gifts, our talents, our skills, our relationships, our jobs, our mistakes, our pain … everything. All that we have we have because of him (with exception to our mistakes & pain). And his giving us these things is only part of the story. It’s what we (with him) do with it that holds the deeper meaning. This is not a lesson that comes easy for me. When God gives me something, I hold so tightly onto it that my knuckles turn blue and my fingernails dig into my palms. But that tends to suffocate whatever it is that I’m holding onto. And I miss seeing how big God is, how amazing and personal he can be. I miss an opportunity to see another side of him.
How much of heaven can I get here on earth? I’ll take God now. No need to wait to meet him later. He gives us himself as soon as we’re willing to admit we need him. He gave us himself even before that, 2000 years ago.