Dear Friends in Christ:
I remember a Christmas card I once saw. On the front of it was the classic (although biblically inaccurate) Epiphany scene: the baby Jesus in the manger, Mary, Joseph, animals, and three wise men giving Jesus their gifts.
In the foreground was a fourth wise man sneaking away with a very distraught look on his face. He was holding a gift-wrapped box and saying to himself, “Gold? Frankincense? Myrrh? Oh, man… all I brought was this Chia Pet!” The inside of the card said, “It’s the thought that counts.”
Do you remember Chia Pets? I still see them around once in a while. In the 80’s they were the epitome of a useless gift. There’s only so much joy and satisfaction a person can get out of a Chia Pet before sensing that there must be more to life than growing hair on a ceramic animal or celebrity. But I have a confession to make. I actually once gave a Chia Pet as a gift. I was young and foolish. I guess I just got caught up in the moment. I gave one to my mother for Christmas.
Now, you have to understand that my mother was good at gardening. To this experienced gardener, I gave a gift which consisted of spreading paste on a piece of clay and watching it grow. It was like giving a paint-by-number set to Rembrandt. I meant no offense. It was the thought that counted. The amazing thing is that my mom loved her Chia Pet! She thought it was great. She spread the seeds on it, grew the hair, gave it haircuts, and showed it to me every time it grew something new. My mom loved my gift because she loved me. She took something that seemed unimportant and useless and used it to strengthen our relationship.
So often we feel like that fourth wise man sneaking away from Jesus with our Chia Pet. We think that our gifts aren’t good enough. We look around at the talents and gifts of others and feel that what we have to offer is unimportant and useless. But it’s not. It’s the thought that counts. No gift is ever perfect (I mean, really, what’s a child going to do with a brick of gold or a bottle of perfume?!) But because Jesus loves us, he will accept our gifts and use them for good. The important thing isn’t so much what we give, but simply that we do.
My mom taught me that any gift, even a Chia Pet, can be used to say “I love you.” So, instead of belittling your talents and trying to sneak away from Jesus during this past year or years, offer that gift you’ve been hiding in this New Year. I guarantee you that Jesus will love it.... because he loves you and so do I!
My continued blessings to each and every one of you as God again blesses us with a New Year, a New Beginning!