RITE OF PASSAGE: The wonderful gift
I think we all cherish a memory of that one exceptional Christmas gift-the one we received as a child that for some reason stands out from all the rest. I was probably 9 years old when I received mine.
On Christmas Eve, our family always went to my grandparents’ farm. I loved visiting their house. It was huge, with a living room built to serve as the community dance hall. Granddad played the fiddle (he was too poor to own a violin), and all the people from this tiny rural community gathered in his home to square dance the night away. He was a tall, lanky fellow, a little over six feet tall but never weighing more than 130 pounds. I have a tremendous legacy handed down to me through this grandfather. He was the head of the school board, a God-fearing man, the voice of reason and center of his entire community.
On this particular Christmas morning, we got up to open up our presents-all of them, that is except . . . one. Granddad informed that, in order to get my gift from him, he and I would have to go out to the barn. Out he sauntered with me in tow, slid open the barn door and pointed to something lying against the wall. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My wonderful gift was a pair of stilts that Granddad had handcrafted just for me. He had designed them to be just the right height and diameter for a 9-year-old boy to handle with ease. Not only that, he had made the stilts so that as I got taller and better at using them, I could adjust the height of the foot pegs.
My grandfather’s farm consisted of 120 acres surrounding his house. That day, I think I walked every inch of it on a pair of stilts. I learned to walk upstairs and to run . . . well, maybe not quite run, but go as fast as a human being can go while balancing upon two sticks. I spent the next summer with my grandfather on the farm, inventing new ways to test my skills with those stilts. One day, my mother was horrified when she saw me climbing on a picnic table and jumping off, balancing on my stilts all the while. The joy and memories that my grandfather’s gift brought are priceless.
Of course, there are many expensive store-bought Christmas presents that make great gifts. Still, there is something special about receiving a gift that is the product of someone’s personal labor and love. You know why I loved those stilts so much? I knew their creator and designer. I had a personal relationship with him. I even carry his name (my grandfather’s name was Walker Winfield Scott). Granddad knew me well. He knew exactly what would make a 9-year-old boy’s heart sing. He knew that his gift would teach me a new song. It would help me do a new dance and reach for new heights. And Granddad would find his greatest joy in my delight.
I don’t think it will take much for you to see the parallel between my grandfather’s gift and what God the Father has done for us. He has sent us a wonderful gift that is handcrafted, perfectly designed to meet our needs. He knew we would take great delight in the gift He gave-and He would find His greatest delight in . . . ours. Those of us who have a relationship with Him and carry His name are especially delighted in this season that celebrates . . . Him.
I would like to take time for a personal note here. I wish you, my extended family, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This year, I have been privileged to meet many more of you in person-and yet, I wish I could get to know every one of my Baptist Messenger readers. Through the years, you have allowed me to share my life, my hopes and dreams . . . and yes, even my frustrations every week. Many of you have e-mailed, written personal notes and even called to encourage this writer. You have blessed me! Each week, I pray that the Creator of the Universe will use me, and use these articles, to make your load a little lighter. A unique relationship exists between a writer and his readers. In ways I don’t understand, we are family. You are my family, we are His family . . . and that, my friends, is a Christmas gift I will always cherish.