The Returned Gift

From The Pee Dee Baptist Association—Featured this week is the late Rev. Kenneth Cox of Beulah Baptist Church, Hamer, who died March 23rd.  Kenneth was on the original list of newspaper devotion writers, and this is his article published in December 1994.  His mother has given permission to reprint Kenneth’s article.

The Returned Gift
Traffic gets heavy; the lines at the department stores seem unending; the ringing of cash register drawers can be heard throughout the stores; the smell of homemade bread rises to one’s nostrils; tables are being covered with flour as cakes, cookies, and other recipes are being used- all of these activities constitute the Christmas season.  Usually, the day after Christmas is return day for people who did not get just what they wanted: the shirt was too large or too small; the dress had too many buttons; the shoes were not the right color; the VCR did not have a remote control in the box when it was purchased.
Years ago, in a little town, a woman received a gift; the gift at first was unexpected.  Without warning, one day she was notified that she would be receiving a very special gift- a gift that no other woman before her had ever had or that no woman after her would ever possess.  She had no idea, thought, that this wonderful gift would have to be returned one day; the one who sent the gift would have to reclaim it.
Luke 2:51 gives us the situation: “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.”  The mother, of course, was Mary and the gift she received was God’s Son, Jesus.
How precious must have been the sight that Mary beheld- she had given birth to a baby while still being a virgin!  She was engaged to be married, but this child came from God, not from a sexual union between her and Joseph.
In her arms she held a tiny, little baby: a helpless, dependent, and sweet child who could not possibly hurt a fly.  No doubt as she looked into His eyes, Mary saw what all mothers see- the miracle of life; the reality of a tiny human who was carried around in her body until birth; the gift of a little one who would make a home complete.  Mary probably daydreamed about how this infant would grow up to be a handsome man.  Little did she know that one day she would be standing in a crowd and she would be watching her son die.  The little baby who seemed so helpless in her arms would look very helpless indeed on the cross as He would be dying for the sins of all people, people Mary had never even seen.
The warm, fuzzy feeling of being a new mother would one day change into a cold, fearful feeling as she would see her son, Jesus, expire right before her eyes.  She would remember all that He had said while watching Him on Golgotha; she would remember losing Him and finding Him in the Temple when he was twelve; she would remember the wedding at Cana- what a happy time that was!  Of course, she would never forget how all of these events got started- an angel had told her that her son would be the Savior of the world.  She would think all of these things as she watched Him die.  The gift of life had to be returned to God…to be resurrected so that her son and she- and everybody who believes in her son- would live forever.
Like Mary, many of us have much to think about in the Christmas season.  No matter how tired we get of shopping, spending, dodging traffic, waiting in long lines, and seeing the same TV commercials over and over…let us remember Mary who had to return her Christmas present.  But in letting God do so, she played an important role in bringing about salvation to those who will trust in Christ, the greatest gift of all.

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