The following is a very special post from my dad – Pastor Dave Andersen. You can read the original over at the Hawthorne Gospel Church blog. I wanted to say something that fit the Christmas season and, like always, Dad says it best.
My wife and I had the joy of raising six children together and thrilled at many exciting Christmas mornings. The most memorable Christmas was the year we “regifted”.
I spent 37 years as an independent businessman before God called me to the Pastoral Staff. During the housing collapse in the early 1990’s our business hit bottom. We had built a large building so we could handle the growing sales when the bottom dropped out and we were broke. Between 1987 and 1991 we lost 80% of our sales and went from 40 employees down to 6. No place to turn except to place our future in the hands of the Lord. How do you cancel Christmas for six kids when you are flat broke?
Two weeks before Christmas some close friends at church knowing our situation gave us $40 to buy a Christmas tree. We were not accustomed to handouts, but that was a turning point and graciously accepted as from the hand of the Lord.
Sick and tired of spaghetti with no meat in the sauce, we started to pray for guidance. My wife was inspired to encourage all of us to “regift”. That’s a strange concept, but when you hit bottom any idea sounds brilliant. We all dug in our closets, dressers, and down in the basement for toys and gifts we had received in previous years so we had gifts to give each other. With incredible enthusiasm we all carefully wrapped and gave of what little we had. A family of eight each regifting seven gifts created a mountain of joy and hope for brighter days ahead. Our motivation was love. Our gift was of ourselves.
The year before I gave my one son a toolbox and some tools because he loved to fix things. He graciously “re-gifted” it to me that Christmas. To this day every time I walk past that toolbox on my workbench, I think of that Christmas and my young son’s generous gift of his best from the little he had.
My children are all adults now and each one will confirm without hesitation “that was the best Christmas ever” because we learned how to give when we had nothing. Compared to the God of creation who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” what can we give that would mean anything?
You know the answer. Our motivation is love; our gift is our lives. We give because God gave. The God who gives to us so generously has provided a pattern of giving for us to adopt so we can experience the joy of generosity. God has given us the greatest gift in Jesus Christ and because of that we have joy and hope for brighter days ahead. He would never ask us to do what He has not done first for us.
“He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” — John 1:2-3
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” — Luke 2:7