Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I have no gift to bring...

It's Christmas time. The most wonderful time of the year. That might not always be true all the time for people. But to remember and celebrate Jesus' birth every year is a wonderful thing. I have reflected on what this means many times, and some of the most special times that God has spoken to me have actually been at Christmas.

What does it mean that Jesus was incarnate amongst us? Obviously this is a big question, and I'm not going to tackle this one much today, except to say that it is the biggest gift ever given. For Jesus to leave his glory behind in heaven was a huge gift. For him to lay down his life later on was an indescribable gift.

I heard a message at a Christmas Eve service today. The preacher picked up on the theme of the modern carol "The Little Drummer Boy."

(I'll leave most of the pa rum pum pums out).

Come they told me, a new born King to see,
Our finest gifts we bring, to lay before the King,
So to honor him when we come

Little baby, I am a poor boy too
I have no gift to bring, that's fit to give the King
Shall I play for you on my drum?

Mary nodded, the ox and lamb kept time,
I played my drum for him,
I played my best for him,
Then he smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

I must confess I have always loved this song, partly because it lends itself to many great variations from a multitude of musicians, but most of all because of its quintessential simplicity. I have no gift to bring..... I played my best for him.

So the question comes to me. What do I have to give my King Jesus as a gift, this Christmas time, every Christmas time? I could come up with a simple answer and say, I will give him my life. And yes, this is what I want to do. I also know that it is a gift that pleases God. But I also know that my life is full of rubbish. I'm a sinner. I make so many mistakes. I do want to make a difference. I do want Siberian peoples to know about Jesus and I sincerely hope that I play my part in that cause.

Let me go back many years. For a long time I have known that I wanted to go to Siberia, since I was 15. The journey took many twists and turns, and is even still continuing. When I was 21 I took my first trip outside of the country on a short term mission to South Africa. We actually arrived the day before Christmas. The few days after Christmas there was virtually nothing for us to do. Here I was, young, passionate and intense, going on a mission trip as part of the path of obedience to God. When I got to the start of that mission trip I was all keyed up to get out there and share the gospel. Everything fell flat on its face and I was trapped on this compound with my hands metaphorically tied. It felt so dark, black and lonely. At that stage of my life that mission trip was a litmus test for me. A test to see if I would serve God with my life as a missionary. It felt hopeless, and impossible. I didn't know where things were going. In that moment things felt the darkest they had ever in my life. But in that moment I cried out to God. I told him that yes I wanted to serve him. I wanted to give him my gift. I told him that I would reapply with my resume for the job- and confessed that all I could offer him was a blank piece of paper. "But I'll apply anyway Lord, this is all I have to offer..... nothing.... myself."

Then he smiled at me. Yes, he would receive this gift.

As I reflect on this now, I once again realise, that as far as I have come in the Siberian journey it is only because God has taken me that far in the journey. The times when I have seen him work the most have been the times when I was simply in the right place at the right time and was obedient. I was the blank page on those occasions and God filled in all of the gap.

I want to give him my life again. I want to give him a special gift this Christmas time. I won't pretend to offer a page of my own, but I will offer up the page that he has been writing on and ask of my Lord that he would complete this good work he has begun in me. I'm still a sinner and I still make lots of mistakes. But I'll play my best for Christ.

And he smiles at me.....

May he smile at you too this Christmas time.

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