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The gift with your name on it

woman unwrapping a gift

Do you ever feel the GIVE and RECEIVE tension with God? “Which part is mine and which part is His?” I find myself asking the Lord that question often.

A popular Christmas song offers insight in its first two lines:

JOY to the world, the Lord has COME.

Let earth RECEIVE her king.

When it comes to giving and receiving, Jesus chose GIVING first. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He GAVE…”

What if Jesus gave and then no one received? I learned a life-changing lesson about becoming a receiver from a little guy named Min Jung one Christmas.

My husband, John, and I were in Korea 36 Christmases ago. John was filming a documentary about Bertha Holt, the founder of the child welfare agency where we worked. And I was there to help him escort five children to the United States – to their adoptive families.

John and I stayed three weeks at the Ilsan Orphanage in Korea, at the humble home of Molly, Bertha’s daughter. Molly, a nurse, had given her life to care for the most fragile and handicapped residents – some of whom would be adopted, many would not.

Min Jung was living in Molly’s home, and he and I became fast friends. He was seven, spoke no English, and lived his days in a specially built wheelchair to accommodate his very severe cerebral palsy. I was the mother of a two and a four year old, and soon to be the mother of our adopted two-month old, Renee. And though I spoke no Korean, Min Jung and I connected…taking walks, making funny faces, looking at books and laughing – lots of laughing.

Ilsan is located very close to the DMZ, and each year at Christmas time the US soldiers threw a party for the 300 residents – a highlight at the center. The soldiers brought a new, warm coat and a stocking with an orange and candy collection for each child.

When the party was over, Min Jung and I sat in Molly’s small living room together looking at his Christmas stocking treasures. He was asking something of me, I knew that, but I couldn’t understand what it was. After a few minutes, I asked Molly to interpret for us.

“He wants to give you his orange and candy,” she said.

I was stunned. “Molly, I can’t! What should I do?”

“Accept them,” she said. “This is the only time of year he has something to give.”

Oh the humility, the blessed humility required to be a Receiver.

One day in heaven, I hope to share with Min Jung the impact his giving made in my life – and in our family. From that Christmas on, we passed out presents, as we’ve always done. But our tradition became collecting the presents we were giving, not the ones we were receiving. And one by one, we gave our gifts to our loved ones. We all became receivers.

A few days ago, I filled my car with gifts for my grandchildren. They eagerly helped me carry them in and stacked them under the tree. Within minutes I heard the squeals, “This one has my name on it!”

Giving and receiving – both Christmas delights. Today as I lit candles, I was imagining gifts under my tree that Jesus has given– the ones with my name on them….

Forgiveness Guidance

Mercy Hope

Kindness Companionship

Grace Peace

Love Comfort

In this season, and in every season of life, the Lord asks us to become RECEIVERS. The Bible says to do it with a grateful heart. Author Ann Voskamp says it this way:

“The Continual Prayer: God whispers His love, and I murmur my thanks.”

Pull Up a Chair and Sit Still

red chair next to lighted candles

God CAME – He still comes to us with gifts in abundance. Today I unwrap the gift of God’s Presence.

“Emmanuel – God with us.”

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” - Matthew 1:23

What gift has your name on it today?


Thanks for sitting still with me today.

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