With great sadness (and some anger) I opened a closet door only to discover termites had infiltrated and done some damage. They got a cardboard box with some important stuff, but most importantly they destroyed three National Geographic magazines. These were not just ordinary magazines but were a reminder of being loved and having someone sacrifice for me.
Several years ago, for my birthday, my daughter set out on a quest to surprise me—I can only imagine the effort she put into this, but I’m pretty sure it was not a day-trip. She gifted me those magazines. They were original Nat Geo’s published throughout the years with the cover story taking place on the date of my birth. Most memorable was the one with Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon.
We have all heard “It is not the gift, but the thought that counts.” Now that sounds like something Jesus would have said…or maybe could be found in Proverbs, right? Wrong. The quote came from a professor of literature at Princeton University, Henry van Dyke, in the early 1900’s. An important thing to understand about Henry was that he was also a theologian and a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that Professor van Dyke got it right, he got it right according to God’s desire.
To stay true to my journey to find God’s premise for our lives, I had to first get over the material loss of those magazine I cherished—there is a grandson I was going to pass these items to one day. Well, that obviously cannot happen, so what can I pass to him? It’s the thought of the gift—I want to share with him the story of the love, generosity, and selflessness of his mother and I believe that will stay with him longer than a faded magazine. The material things we give each other are not permanent, but the motive and attitude in which we give to each other lasts a lifetime.
There is, however, one gift in the history of the universe where both the gift and the thought count in a mighty way. Ephesians 2:8-9 explains, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” You see, the gift was Jesus Christ suffering and dying on a Cross for you and me—that counts! And the thought was “That God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”—that counts!
This is a gift that is available for everyone; no strings attached, not subject to destruction, and it is eternal—have you accepted this gift?