Stew on This: What Would You Name as the Best Christmas Gift of All Time?
Written By: Glenn C. Stewart
In the book, Everybody’s Normal ‘Till You Get to Know Them, John Ortberg spoke of a boy named John Gilbert who had DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy).
“In a town called Paradise in California, lived a young man named John Gilbert. I like to think of him as a friend of mine, though we never met; I have traded letters with his family. When he was five years old, John was diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. It is a genetic, progressive, and cruel disease. He was told it would eventually destroy every muscle and finally, in a space of ten more years or so, take his life.
John passed away at the age of twenty-five. Toward the end of his life, he needed the help of machines even to breathe. He had only enough strength to move a computer mouse with his right hand. But he did that brilliantly. He sent me a manuscript of the story of his life that is one of the most moving pieces I have ever read.
Each year John lost something. One year it was the ability to run; he couldn’t play sports with other kids. Another year he could no longer walk straight, so all he could do was watch others play. Eventually he lost the ability to speak.
John knew something about the pain of exclusion. He wrote that junior high – not surprisingly – was perhaps the hardest era of his life. Junior high is difficult for almost everyone, I suppose.
But what John experienced was far worse than most of us could imagine. Groups of students used to humiliate him because of his condition and because he had to bring a trained dog to school with him. ‘What a silly species we are!’ John wrote. ‘We all need to feel accepted ourselves, but we constantly reject others.’
But there were other moments in John’s life. One night the National Football League sponsored a fund-raising auction and dinner at which John was a guest. One player let him hold huge Super Bowl rings, which almost extended to John’s wrist. When the auction began, one item particularly caught John’s attention: a basketball signed by the players of the Sacramento Kings professional team. John got a little carried away, because when the ball was up for bids, he raised his hand. As soon as the hand went up, John’s mother flagged it down. In John’s words, ‘Astronauts never felt so many G’s as my wrist did that night.’
The bidding for the basketball rose to an astounding amount for an item that was not the most valuable treasure on the docket. Eventually, one man named a figure that shocked the room and that no one else could match.
The man went to the front and collected his prize. But instead of returning to his seat, the man walked across the room and placed it in the thin, small hands of the boy who had admired it so intently. The man placed the ball in hands that would never dribble it down a court, never throw it to a teammate on a fast break, never fire it from three-point range. But those hands would cherish it. John wrote, ‘It took me a moment to realize what he had done. I remember hearing gasps all around the room, then thunderous applause, and seeing weepy eyes. To this day I’m amazed… Have you ever been given a gift you could never have gotten for yourself? Has anyone ever sacrificed a huge amount for you without getting anything in return except… the joy of giving?’”
Jesus did that for you… His sacrifice is the best Christmas gift ever.
Jesus “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross…” That was for the joy of serving your deepest need, the forgiveness of your sin, the restoration of your hope to be and enjoy who God made you to be. Jesus came to Earth and died for the joy of giving you eternal life (so you can have connection with God right now). And He did it so that when your Earth life ends you can have assurance of being with Him. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
My deepest desire is that you have received God’s indescribable gift. Say yes to His offer of forgiveness and life. Say, “Yes, Jesus, be my Savior. Forgive my sin. Give me the life you planned for me.”
Don’t leave His gift unopened. Don’t just hear about the gift, sing about the gift, talk about the gift – take it for yourself. Receive it. It’s a gift too wonderful for words.