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Gifted and Lifted

Dec 24, 2020

Imagine it’s Christmas 2020. We all wake up in matching jammies and do stockings, breakfast, anticipation…  and then mom and dad  (you now) walk into family room to verify that Santa came. But the room is empty.


The kids are around the corner bouncing, waiting for you to give the signal.


You stand there stunned, staring at each other.


Unable to wait any longer, the kids fly around the corner squealing.


They see the room and the squealing stops. Thinking it must be a game. They start searching around. They run to the back window, no trampoline. To the garage, there’s no new bike. Hmmm.


Eventually the kids walk back in and notice the real concern on mom and dads’ faces.


You’re speechless. For 10 years as a parent, you’ve been able to muscle this miracle into existence in a household of “believers”, some years it took help.


Overcome by confusion you sit on the floor and cry, “But, I, I swear… didn’t we…?” For lots of reasons, you can’t finish the sentence.


Every year on the fist night of Passover, Jews gather in families to retell the story of Moses parting the Red Sea to save Israel. It’s a beautiful meal. They leave the door open and a place at the table for Elijah, just in case he comes to announce the Savior.


For me, the tragedy of Christmas is that while billions of Christians celebrate the birth of that very Savior, our Jewish sisters and brothers suffer ridicule, persecution, and even holocausts while waiting for Him.


Christ was born quietly in Bethlehem, but they were so hung up on how things were “supposed” to go, that they not only missed it, they raged.


Back to you, in a puddle on the floor. Your sweet kids huddle on top of you, crying too, but not for Santa. You’re taking this turn of events way harder than they are…


Suddenly your 6 year-old squeals with excitement and runs to the glass door in the back… where a homely little stray mutt noses the window, begging to come it. They all run to the window!


He’s not what you expected from Santa, but he’s perfect.


Forget the Christmas list… open your eyes. This is Christmas. The thrill of hope.


A reminder keep our eyes innocent and unjaded by the times.


Because we don’t know what salvation is going to look like.





I considered making this story a little longer. I thought about letting mom and dad rage a little bit, letting them be on the phone with cops or maybe even arguing with each other about who forgot to do what… finally late in the day to watch their babies in the yard building a house for the dog, naming him, and feeding him leftovers…


But it would have been overkill to make my bigger point.


We all will eventually open our eyes and see the gift.


When the prophet Zechariah knew the attitudes of the Jews and knew that they would likely miss the gift. Indeed they would for a time… but God comforted him in a vision. Yes, he saw thousands of years of blindness and pain, healed in this moment… Someday, the Jews will finally know their Savior…


“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.


“And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”


Somehow, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess… that the babe of Bethlehem was the Savior all along.


I’m thankful that God has opened my eyes enough, during my short life, to believe that Jesus is His Son…


My prayers lately have been different. I’m trying to cut through the wants and the “Christmas lists” that have burdened my faith since I was a little boy.


“Please do this… save me from that… fix her… punish him…”


I just want to know that when the God I pray to “doesn’t do this, doesn’t save me from that… refuses to change someone else… and blesses my enemy…” I want to know that He loves me. I want to lay my worries on Him with real faith.


In other words, I just want my eyes to be open. I just want to see His Hand in this whole thing as much as He’ll let me, right now.


He can do that y’know.


I’m Mark Mabry


Merry Christmas