The best Christmas gift I ever got wasn’t a My Little Pony.
It wasn’t a Dyson Motorhead v6 Cordless Stick Vacuum. Which may or may not have been a self-gift. I’d post a link but there’s a newer, better version out now we’re not promoting consumerism around here.
It wasn’t Aunt Alaine’s Rainforest cake that arrives in the mail every December. That fruity little logic-defying brick. It’s vegan. And it’s a fruitcake. A vegan fruitcake. That sounds like a recipe for “No Thank You” in my book. But oh heavens, it’s delectable. To the extent we’ve taken to using a ruler to divvy it up FAIR. No joke.
It wasn’t even the coupon from my parents for overnight babysitting so my husband and I could have a getaway. Although sooooo close, that one.
I’ve received a lot of nice Christmas presents over the years. Thoughtful items from friends and family who love me and want to bless me. And while I’m very grateful for these loved ones and their generosity, and I’m sure they brought me a measure of enjoyment, the truth is… I don’t really remember most of the gifts I’ve received over the years, and I probably don’t even have most of them anymore.
There is one gift I’ll never forget though.
***WARNING: Clichés ahead***
The best gift I ever got wasn’t a thing.
It can’t be bought. It won’t break. Can’t be re-gifted. Will never lose its value. Never go out of style. A gift that will last for eternity.
Read on to find out what it was.
Quiet Time with God
Once Upon a Time I tried to have an early morning quiet time. I set my alarm for about an hour before the kids woke up and headed outside with a steaming cup of coffee, a warm, cozy blanket and my Bible. I’d listen to worship music, pray, read, and write down what I heard God speaking. And this continued Happily Ever After.
Excuse me while I die of laughter. And maybe weep a little too.
Anyone with little kids knows… mmmm yeah that’s not happenin’ in the real world. Not for long anyways.
The problem was my son. My wonderful, bewildering son who never met an early morning hour he didn’t like. When I started waking up earlier, he started waking up earlier. No matter how early I got up, he’d get up too, and usually wake his brother in the process.
I love my kids… but waking up 4:30am just so I could spend even more time with them and NOT God? That’s an emphatic “Nah-Ah.”
Plus there was the whole seething with barely suppressed rage when my time with the Lord was rudely interrupted by my beloved offspring. Like:
“AAAAAARRRRGGGHHH you little $%#@&s! GO AWAY!!!”Can’t you see I’m trying to spend time with JESUS??!!
That’s not pretty.
Yet those early morning times I spent with Jesus were precious. I look back on them longingly. I hope to give it another go in the not too distant future.
Because it was during one of these times I received The Best Gift Ever.
The Best Gift Ever
One of these mornings I read the account of Mary when she visited Jesus’s tomb after he had been crucified and found it empty.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying.
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). (John 20:11-16)
When I read that, I was unexpectedly overwhelmed with emotion. I began to cry.
I was so confused. I’m not the type to shed an easy tear. What was going on? What were these tears about?
Then I realized that when Jesus called Mary’s name, there was something about that call that spoke directly to the deepest part of her being. He spoke her name and instantly she recognized him.
That was quite intellectually profound, but I still wondered: Why did it touch me and my emotions so much?
Although I had posed that question more to myself than God, Jesus gently answered:
“That was me calling your name.”
In that very moment, Jesus called my name. Jesus, who is the Word of God (John 1:1), spoke directly to me through the Bible, which is the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
He called my name.
And it triggered something deep in my soul. I couldn’t help but respond emotionally.
That morning I had an unmistakable encounter with Jesus. It marked the beginning of everything changing for me. Not long after I proceeded to truly repent and accept Jesus as my Lord, experience freedom from spiritual blindness, and exchange self-righteousness for true righteousness.
I personally, literally experienced John 10:3:
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (NLV)
So my Best Christmas Gift ever?
A little baby was born. God became man. The man who was God died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and then…
Jesus called my name.
But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
And He’s called or is calling your name as well.
P.S. Click here to listen to an outstanding message on this topic, or here for it on Podbean, delivered in a delightful Scottish accent to boot. “Truth for Life’s” Alistair Begg, check him out!
P.S. I’m so curious about this phenomenon, so please, tell me: If Jesus has called your name, when and how did that occur? Was it in a moment, or a gradual process? What happened?