Friday, December 11, 2020
When the Christmas shopping was done, all the gifts were tucked neatly into the trunk, and we climbed back into the car. I noticed something was up with my youngest brother. He had a glum look on his face. I wondered what was going on.
After a few minutes of driving, dad adjusted the rear view mirror so he could see the three boys in the back seat. A conversation was about to take place that I will never forget.
“Did you boys get all your shopping done?”
I said yes. The middle brother said yes. The youngest was silent.
My dad spoke again.
“Answer the question, son!”
Sheepishly and quietly my brother said, “No.”
With a little more emphasis my dad asked again, “WHY NOT?!”
“I ran out of money.”
I could feel the tension that was expressed on my brother’s face. My dad demanded an explanation. He sternly asked his next question.
“What gift was so expensive that you didn’t have enough for everyone else?”
My mind started racing. I wanted my dad to stop and handle this privately when we got home. I wanted my brother to be released from the fear he was obviously feeling. I wanted him to experience the joy of picking out a gift so special that everyone was thrilled with his choice. I didn’t want his joy destroyed by revealing too much information and ruining the surprise. I truly felt bad for him.
“ANSWER ME! WHO’S GIFT COST SO MUCH?”
The sheepish and subdued answer slid over quivering lips.
In that instant I was conflicted. My childish nature wanted to know what he had bought, while my heart was breaking for my brother as the tears streamed down his face. He had obviously bought something that was an expression of great love and should have produced great joy, and yet all he could feel was embarrassment and shame. It was one of the most gut-wrenching moments of my childhood.
But it wasn’t over. Our father demanded to know what the gift was. I have no idea to this day why that was important, but to my dad, in that moment, it was.
“NO! I can’t say it out loud. He will know what he’s getting.”
It was now a battle of the wills. Three times my dad demanded that he reveal what gift could have been that expensive. Three times my brother refused to answer. The fourth demand came as the car was being pulled to the side of the road.
With a shriek of fear my brother shouted, “A knife. I bought John a hunting knife.”
The car returned to the pavement. Dad was silent as he realized what had happened. My brother was devastated. My eyes were wet. My immaturity couldn’t wait to see the knife.
When we opened presents on Christmas, I realized how hard it is to act surprised. But I had no problem being grateful. My gift had cost my brother a lot more than seven dollars. Thankfulness sprung from me when I saw this beautiful hunting knife with a multi-colored leather wrapped handle. It is the one childhood Christmas gift that I still possess. I have used it to clean every deer I have ever killed. I have cherished it for 58 years and I will cherish it for the rest of my life, because of the personal price paid for it.
Sounds exactly like how we should cherish the gift of salvation.