A boy who woke up one Christmas morning and jumped out of bed, knowing that the toy that he had been desperately praying for over the whole of December was somewhere under the Christmas tree.
He rushed towards the tree to find his father holding his Christmas present.
In excitement, and almost with a sense of entitlement, he snatched the present from his father, shook it to see if his guess was correct, threw the gift to the floor and started ripping apart the wrapping.
He then opened it up, only to find the obvious – his long-awaited toy, broken because of the impact.
Angrily, he shouted at his father, blaming him for giving him a broken toy.
I know that this story sounds ridiculous.
Unfortunately, however, this is our story. For so many of us, that story is what our relationship with God looks like.
We go to Him, not for Him, but for the good gifts that He gives – for wealth, for success, for a spouse, for children, or other prayers and petitions we want to be answered.
We believe that these gifts will be our source of joy, and we end up making these objects or these concepts foremost in our affections. We turn these things into our personal gods, delighting in them more than in God Himself.
And as we all know, or ought to know, gifts – even good gifts – when made the ultimate priority in our lives, will ruin us.
The gift gets ruined, and along with it, our hopes and expectations.
But that’s not where the story ends. We turn back to God in anger and blame Him for not answering our prayers.
We experience a lack of joy because we looked for it in something that does not satisfy, and we blame God for it.
And we run away, like petulant spoilt children – petty and foolish.
No good gift can ever take the place of God in our lives. They are meant to be enjoyed, and God gives them to us out of His generosity.
We are meant to rejoice in the gifts we get, but they can never satisfy us the way God can.
Only God gets to be utmost in our affections. Nothing else can or will satisfy.
We don’t celebrate the gift, we celebrate the Giver.
And the beauty of Christmas is that the Gift and Giver become one.
God the Father, GIVES us Jesus, His Son – the greatest gift of all – and we get to delight in Him.