Some years ago, during an energy crisis, a father decided to help his adult son’s family during what was shaping up to be a very cold winter. He went out and purchased a non-refundable $10,000 credit in their name from the propane fuel company. When the son opened the card on Christmas morning and read the note from his father, tears began to form in the corners of his eyes. With emotion, he looked at his father, and said “Oh, Dad! Thank you! But there’s just one problem. We heat with total electric.”
What do you do with gifts that don’t seem to fit? The shirt that doesn’t hold your holiday, uh, stuffing? Or what about that baby doll your daughter got that is identical to the one still under the tree that you bought her? You usually take it back to the store and exchange it, right? Now, this is just me, but I personally have a problem with taking something back. Even if it doesn’t fit or I find it hideous, to me, it feels like I don’t like the giver if I take it back. My wife assures me that this is silly and that they would want you to take the gift back and get something that you need or can use.
But there are some gifts that are worth rearranging your life for. If my dad got me $10,000 worth of propane, you bet that I’d call the HVAC company tomorrow and get a new furnace. Maybe a new fireplace insert too. For something that generous, I’d change the way we live. If you bought me a brand-new car, provided I could fit my 6’5 self into it, I’d be thrilled, no matter if it was a Ford or Toyota. Some things that don’t seem to fit at first, are worth keeping, even worth changing for.
You see, when we consider the gift of Jesus, well, He doesn’t seem to fit in with our lives. He calls us to be willing to leave everything behind and follow Him. And while most people seem to like the idea of Jesus, they aren’t fond of giving something up to follow Him. So, for a lot of people, they get Jesus at Christmas, when He’s a sweet little baby laying in the manger, all meek and mild. But as soon as He begins to insist on changes in our lives, we put Him away, just like the nativity set.
Luke 9:23-25 says, “And [Jesus] said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’”
Jesus said that if we seek to save our lives, we will actually lose them. But if we give our lives away, give them to Him, it is then that we truly experience the life He created us to have. Yet far too many people look this gift horse in the mouth. “Sorry, I know you’re offering me a completely new life, new freedom, and new hope, but it’s just too much. I can’t make Jesus fit.”
This year, don’t put Jesus away or exchange Him for something else. He is the greatest gift of all, a gift worth keeping.