Children's Corner - Does Jesus Have a Wish List?


Connie sighed. Every year it seemed she spent hours planning for Christmas, and even more hours cooking, cleaning, and decorating. Although she loved to do all of these things, it always seemed as though it was over so fast after all that effort. She loved shopping for gifts, but she already knew that the joy those gifts would bring would be short-lived. She wished she could make it all last a little longer. As she surveyed the pile of gifts she was getting ready to wrap, she thought about the question her children had asked her that morning: “Mom—if it’s Jesus’ birthday, how come we buy each other presents? Why don’t we give Jesus something?”

Why indeed? What does one give the One who created the world and who owns everything in it? She smiled as she remembered how her boys had prayed that morning: “Jesus, what would You like to have for Christmas?” Did Jesus have a wish list?

On this particular December morning, Connie’s husband Ed and her sons Adam and Stephen had already left for work and school. Connie opened her Bible, intending to read the Christmas story, but the Bible opened to Matthew 25, and Connie’s eyes fell on the verses: “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink...inasmuch as you did it to the least of My brethren, you did it to Me.” Connie smiled. Of course! Jesus did have a wish list! “Inasmuch as you did [to others], you [gave] to Me.” She put the Bible aside so she could share this thought with her family that evening. As Connie knelt to pray, she asked God to use her the way He had used Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. “Lord,” she prayed, “Mary and Joseph were willing to be a part of the change You came to make in the world. Let me be that, too.”
In the middle of her prayer, Connie suddenly thought, “Clean the house for Dorothy.” She nudged the thought aside and continued to pray, but several times the same thought urged her: “Clean the house for Dorothy.”

Connie rose from her knees and wondered where that thought had come from. What made her think of her neighbor Dorothy, whom she hadn’t seen in several months? Dorothy’s husband was a miserable man who had caused Connie and Ed a lot of grief with his constant complaints. As a result, the two neighbors had very little contact with one another. Again, the voice was urging her to “Clean the house for Dorothy.” It wasn’t until the 4th time that Connie realized God was speaking to her.

Connie lifted her eyes toward heaven and said, “Okay Lord, if you want me to clean for Dorothy, I will do it. But what if she doesn’t want me to intrude on her life?” The only answer she got was, “Clean the house for Dorothy.”

Connie gathered some supplies and rang her neighbor’s doorbell. It wasn’t until Dorothy answered the door that Connie learned that she had had a stroke a few weeks earlier. The house was a mess, and after several hours of hard work, Connie left behind not only sparkling floors, but also grateful neighbors. What Connie didn’t know was that this act of kindness would open the door to a restored relationship with her neighbors. She didn’t know that a few more weeks of cleaning for Dorothy would give her an opportunity to invite them to church, and that Dorothy and her husband would come to know the Lord in about a year’s time—all because Connie let God intrude on her schedule and use her to minister to a hurting couple.

In the meantime, Ed was at work. He had been praying about how to celebrate Christmas, just as Connie had. That morning, he was introduced to the new young man who had been hired in the shipping department. Mike didn’t make a very good first impression. His attitude was sullen and resentful, and he seemed determined to push away the friendly welcome that had been extended to him by the staff. Ed was inclined to avoid him, which would have been easy enough to do because he didn’t even work on the same floor, but Connie was at home praying, and God spoke to Ed: “Be kind to Mike.”

Because of his prayer, Ed made a point of being friendly to Mike. He canceled his lunch meeting and asked Mike to go out with him for a burger for lunch. During that lunch, Ed found out that Mike was not living with his wife and young son because Aimee was angry about his gambling habit. Mike had pretty much alienated his parents through the same addiction, and had gambled away all of his savings. He was angry at the world. He wasn’t particularly friendly to Ed and let him know that he was not interested in a friendship. Ed persevered, and in spite of zero encouragement from Mike, Ed continued to speak with him on a regular basis, to encourage him, to bring him a lunch or coffee, and to invite him to church.

What Ed did not know was that Mike had been considering committing suicide the day that Ed met him. Ed’s friendliness gave him enough hope to postpone that decision until the next day, and as Ed continued to show him kindness, Mike realized that maybe he could try again. Ed didn’t know that two months later, Mike would join Gamblers Anonymous. Three months later he would go to the church where he grew up and find salvation. Six months after that he reconciled with his wife and son. Ed didn’t realize it on that first December morning, but God used him to show Mike the love that Christ brought at Christmas, and because of that, Mike was able to receive that love and celebrate the next Christmas with his wife and child as a born-again child of God.

Adam was having his own experiences at school. He was in the third grade, and that morning, when his parents had prayed so earnestly that they might find a way to make Christmas meaningful, Adam’s teacher gave the class an assignment. “Today I want you to write in your journals about what makes Christmas special.” Adam knew exactly what he was going to write, because his parents had told him just that very morning what was special about Christmas. He wrote: Christmas is special because Jesus was born. He came to earth to show us that God loves us. He knew that the world was broken, and He wanted to die on the cross to fix it. We can make Christmas special when we show people that Jesus loves us.”

Adam simply shared what he had been taught. What He didn’t know was that his teacher would read his entry that evening and be moved to call her mother, with whom she had not spoken for ten years. He didn’t know that his teacher and her mother would attend church that Christmas Eve together and would be reconciled not only with each other, but with Christ. He didn’t know that his teacher would tell her friends that she heard about the Christmas message from a student, and that the wonderful change in her life was a result of God’s love. Adam didn’t know that because of his teacher’s testimony, two other friends would come to believe in Jesus and receive salvation.

Connie and Ed and Adam would probably never find out just how their “Inasmuch” gifts to Jesus would impact the lives of those to whom they gave them. But Jesus knew. And as they gathered as a family on Christmas Eve and read the beautiful account of Jesus’ birth together, it was as if the angels had spoken directly to them: “Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be for all people” (Luke 2:20b). They now knew that joy. They knew that Jesus’ love had changed their hearts and their lives— and they were blessed.

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