Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Priceless Present

Her groceries bagged and back in her cart already, the customer noticed that there were no other shoppers in line behind her and stole a minute to chat. Eagerly she reached into her purse and pulled out a photo of herself and her then hours-old husband on Christmas Day nine years earlier.

Washed all over again with new-bride excitement, she told me that she hadn’t been looking for a spouse when they started dating. He’d never been married, but she had been there and was done with that, a painful divorce having left her with negative feelings on the subject. They just wanted to have some fun together. But one thing led to another, and eventually when he asked her to marry him, she said yes. Still in no hurry to run to the altar, they began making plans slowly and methodically for a wedding at some future date.

Or so she thought. Apparently he’d been thinking about the matter more than she, and after a day of shopping together two days before Christmas, their laughter still fresh on their lips, he suddenly suggested they just run off and get married the next day. Instead of this endless searching for just the right present, why not just be their Christmas gift to each other that year? Thinking he was still joking around, she joined in the game, told him to show up at noon the next day and they’d do it. They laughed some more, kissed goodbye, and she went to bed that night without giving the idea another thought.

A pounding on her door more insistent than any alarm clock woke her the next day. Half awake, she opened it to find him standing there, flowers in his hand and a huge grin on his face. “I’m taking you at your word,” he said, reminding her of the promise she’d made the day before. He rushed her to get ready, saying they had a marriage license to pick up, a preacher on standby, and little time to spare. Her head in a daze, she did as she was bid and changed her status from “single” to “spouse” that very day. In the photo she held out to me I saw two wide-eyed newlyweds, still a little breathless from the events of the day before, holding each other tightly as they stood on her mother’s doorstep and announced “We’re married!” at the family Christmas celebration the next day.

Don’t you know we’re standing in her shoes? Many of us likewise weren’t looking for the love of a lifetime when suddenly it burst upon us. Jesus entered our everyday lives and wooed us with His love and kindness, His faithfulness, forgiveness, and the joy of the time we spent together. Eventually we took Him up on His proposal to enter into an eternal commitment to Him, to become the future Bride of Christ. He promised to return for us and went to make His preparations for what we assumed was a very distant date. Amazingly we likewise have fallen asleep, forgetting that He said He’d surprise us like a thief in the night to take us at our word that we’d be ready and waiting whenever He chose to come. And now time is knocking at our door, reminding us of His soon arrival to claim His promised Bride.

I looked at the photo one more time before handing it back to her, and then watched as she tucked it carefully back in her purse. She carried it with her because she was looking for a frame to place it in so she could give it to her husband on Christmas as a reminder of the day they promised to be each other’s gift.

Can’t we do the same? Let us likewise carry the love we have for Jesus in our hearts and actively look for ways to frame it in deeds of kindness, generosity and mercy toward others this holiday season as a way to be the gift to Him that no amount of money can buy. As we prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Christ child this Christmas let us remember that our Groom is likewise on His way.

Be ready when He comes.

“While the bridegroom tarried, the all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes!… And they who were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut… Therefore watch, for you do not know either the day or the hour in which the Son of man comes.”
(Matthew 25:5,6,10,13 MKJV)

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