I lead a double-life. No, I’m not a spy or a secret agent. I don’t have two families. No, the double-life I lead becomes exposed about this time every year. In just a couple weeks, we’ll all be celebrating Christmas. In fact, Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  It’s why my wife and I got married in December. We love Christmas!  But, Christmas brings with it my split-personality.

You see, I absolutely love to give gifts. I enjoy the research, the hunt for the “best” this, or the “perfect” that. I will scour the web and beyond to find items which are sure to bring joy to hearts and smiles to faces. In fact, I’ve even made last-minute trips across the state to ensure that Santa didn’t disappoint on Christmas morning.  I do things I’d never do for myself in a million years for those I love the most.

The irony is that while I am arguably one of the most thoughtful gift-givers, I am simultaneously the world’s worst gift-recipient. It stresses my wife out each year to purchase gifts for me…not because she doesn’t love to shower me with cool gadgets and gizmos, but because of my reaction when I open gifts. I’ll be blunt: I don’t get excited when I open gifts. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment; it’s that I don’t like surprises, and additionally, I immediately begin to analyze whether the gift will “fit” into my life – will I use it, will it fit, is it reliable, etc.  It’s a curse!

As an example, my wife schemed years ago to buy our first HDTV. She had done all the research I normally do, and she hid the huge box at her parents’ house. When it came time to open the final Christmas gift, I tore open a small box that had a remote control and an owner’s manual to a 46-inch Samsung HDTV. I was stunned on many levels. Where did we get the money? How did she do this without me? Will the screen fit in the area we have designated for the TV? Will we have to switch cable/satellite providers? Will our monthly bill increase? And on and on and on!

Because I am admittedly hard to please with surprises, my family asked me years ago to provide a list of very specific items I would like for Christmas, and to include a hyperlink to them in a spreadsheet format. And, while this mostly guarantees that I am going to be pleased with my gifts, and not stress out about them, I admit that it takes some of the fun and frivolity out of the equation.

I believe on a much deeper and grander level, God probably feels the same way with our approach to asking and receiving gifts.  When we go to the Lord with specific requests for blessings, there are times when I’d bet He’d say, “Why do you want THAT, when you could have THIS!?” We take away the imagination and wonder of an infinitely creative Heavenly Father!

Further, I believe we’re so bent on satisfying our own desires that we fail to trust that God will grant us what our hearts crave most. But nothing can be further from the truth.  As much as I love to go the extra mile to find the best gifts for those I care for, I don’t hold a candle to the Ultimate gift-giver.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:11 (NLT)

This Christmas, instead of chasing down the treasures this world has to offer, approach the throne of the One who is eager to answer your prayers and offer you what no one or no thing can give you. He already SO loved you that He sent His son…in the form of a baby – to live and to die, and to rise again – so He could never be apart from you!

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C.A. Phillips

C.A. Phillips

C.A. Phillips is a long-time Kennesaw, Ga. resident, and currently serves as Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church. He and his wife, Amy, have been married for 20+ years and have two sons, Chaz and Chandler.

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