Over the months I have been working my job (I work at a place for birthday parties), I have probably seen close to a thousand presents unwrapped. When I look into the trash cans and see the colorful array of torn paper, sometimes I think, “What a waste.”
It took a personal experience for me to understand why we love to wrap gifts. The thought hit me once more as I wrapped a gift for someone about five minutes before I left to go to their house and see them unwrap it. Since she would have it unwrapped very soon, it seemed to be just frivolous, especially since I was already in a hurry.
When she unwrapped it, however, and saw what it was, her eyes alighted and a broad smile spread across her face. A gasp escaped her lips, along with a quiet, “Wow.” That was all it took to ruin me; my pessimistic attitude towards gifts was undone. In that moment a powerful picture began to form in my mind. That tiny bit of time, in which she unwrapped the gift, contained all the emotions of wonder, joy, and gratefulness.
We wrap gifts because we want to see that moment when the recipient’s eyes light up, especially if it is entirely unexpected. Gifts express the joy of life, the bright of dawn. We cannot decide what type of gift we receive (we can, in a sense; but in the end, it is always out of our control). We do not expect to have to “pay back” anyone for a gift, though sometimes human compulsion causes us to. The only question I do not know the answer to is, who receives the greatest joy – the gifted or the giver?
As I thought about these heavenly realities, the powerful words of the apostle Paul came to mind:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Eph. 2:8-9
As I thought about that moment, filled with awe and joy, I thought back to when I realized what the grace of God truly was. A couple summers ago, I was talking to a brother about some things I was struggling with. He exhorted me in the plainest, yet most profound of ways: “Brother – you are in Christ. These things have no hold over you!” I paused; in that moment God’s Spirit came to me and showed me what His grace was for me. My friend’s words were true; sin had no more grip on me, because God had given me the gift of grace. Within me welled up joy unspeakable, and it would have been very appropriate if I had leapt up and down and done a wild jig, dancing as David before the Lord.
I am not advocating a faith based on feelings; our faith is based on the Rock of Christ, and it is immovable, no matter what our feelings may be. However, we should be profoundly affected by the gift of grace. Just think about what God has done for us. All throughout Ephesians, Paul tells us what we were without Christ’s grace:
“Dead in trespasses and sins… children of disobedience… by nature children of wrath… without Christ… aliens and strangers… without hope… without God in the world…”
We were all this and more. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened [enlivened] us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved)…”
Think with me for a moment about this great gift. When I see what it is, it fills me with deep wonder, bounding joy, and a depth of gratefulness. However, it does not end with one “unwrapping”; there is something wonderful about this gift of grace. Rather, there is something very wonderful about the Giver of this great gift: He is Eternal. When I discovered the grace of God in a new way two years ago, that was not the last time – He has brought me back to the wonders of that singular gift again and again. Because God and His grace are eternal, we can never finish with them. We must unwrap them day by day, discovering new and deeper truths than we ever have before, and living a fuller life in Christ.
And that is the goal of the gift of grace; eternal life in Christ. In His words, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).” He is our life here and now and for all eternity. He is the only Life. And because we have been brought into His grace, we can enjoy Him more and more every day.
“For the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” – John Piper
If you have not experienced the grace of God, or are simply curious about more of my thoughts on anything, please comment. I would love to hear from you.