One evening (which slipped into wee hours of the morning) I found myself sleeping on my sofa, in front of my Christmas tree. My brain was whirling, my heart in panic and my body just along for the ride. That night I discovered the fine line between wakefulness and slumber, can become a no man’s land and site of great battles and victories. I found myself under the mesmerising spell of my Christmas tree lights and a rising full moon in the window. Under their glow I began to think of many moonrises and Christmas trees of the past.
So many memories. I closed my eyes and saw a small girl curled up under a huge tree in a vast forest. Her little knees were drawn up with arms tightly wrapped around her shivering, sleeping body. That wee thing wore a threadbare, red sweater. It was wrapped around her tiny body but, inadequate to protect her from the blizzard of dancing snowflakes, that had begun to fall. She was laying in an intricate cloud of her own golden curls that glowed like the golden embers of a dying fire. And in her hair a single green satin bow… waterstained and frayed. I wondered at these dreamlike pictures that flashed across my mind and heart. Then it struck me… how much she looked like a tiny, live gift under a Christmas tree. As the moon rose over the top of that grand evergreen and stars began to twinkle it looked as if the tree had suddenly been decorated. The moon, a bright angelic light at the top of that great tree and the stars twinkling through the branches resembing a thousand tiny candles. Hundreds of glassy icicles dripping from the frosted tips of the tree and the snow had built up on the boughs like hundreds of frosty diamonds. I heard singing… a flock of small red birds had taken up residence on the deep green branches resembling beautiful ornaments, they sounded like a chorus of angels. Suddenly, out of the shadows tiny creatures crept. Quietly surrounding the wee child under the tree. Tucking themselves all around her, nuzzling up to her shivering frame. A wee fawn resting her soft head upon her feet, a pair of white rabbits tucked cozily up in her arms, bluebirds sat upon her shoulder and so on… until she no longer shivered. It was as if the whole forest had come to join the “gift” under the great tree, becoming a gift of warmth and companionship to her tired cold frame.
Everything was, hushed and still it was as if they were waiting… I found I was holding my breath too… and then I heard it… crunching in the diamond studded snow…. from a steady determined stride. All but the small, sleeping child fixed a steady gaze on the shadow coming from deep in the forest.
The shadow soon had a face, the tender face of a man. He was bundled warmly against the blizzard and it seemed nothing would detour him from his mission. Very soon we’d know just what that was. As he skirted the drifts and came out into a clearing, he spotted her. You see, he’d been sent by his Father to retrieve a gift. The tender man had walked the snow covered forest for some time, searching for the gift. So when he saw that wee girl under the tree wrapped in red tatters and hair tied up in green, all he saw was his Father’s gift.
He ran to her, concerned she’d suffered much in this storm. The woodland creatures backed away and stood reverently at a distance as if in the presence of a great King. He had her gathered up into his strong arms and wrapped in a blankets before she knew what happened. Her eyes fluttered open briefly, as his scared hands brushed snow from her face and hair. Then her tiny mouth formed labored words, “I’ve been waiting for you.”
At this point I felt tears slipping from my eyes in my own sleep. My heart was melting and my soul was longing. And I felt warmth running through my chilled body and tired heart. I slept on…. as if I was in his arms instead.
Gently this woodland savior, held that cold and tired little girl close to his chest. Shielding her from the harshness of the storm. Whenever she opened her eyes, He was there to assure her she was safe and didn’t need to hide under the trees anymore. And she’d fall back to sleep.
The journey was long and He carried her all the way. He fed her, clothed her and loved her as his own. She was so tired She couldn’t say much… but he knew her heart… when he looked into her eyes. He remembered her words, that she said she had been waiting for him. As they journeyed, he would tell her stories. She learned he lived in a great kingdom. That He was a prince and that his father had sent him to find her, his own gift of the forest, because He loved her. He told her that one day she’d meet the king and that He’d give her an inheritance. Suddenly, she began weep agonizing, painful tears. The woodland savior stopped and set her down. He knelt before her wee tear-stained face and wiped her tears with his handkerchief. She drew up her knees to her heaving chest… fear in her eyes and silent screams echoed from her heart to his. Sitting beside her quietly listening to all the words she couldn’t say. Finally spent, she closed her eyes and leaned on his great shoulder. They’d been journeying since mid winter… it was now the springtime and soft blades of bright green grass had begun to spring from the ground. Her gentle guardian carefully laid her in the soft grass to rest. When she woke he took her hand and walked her along a narrow path that lead to small still lake. He bathed her face and tired feet, and walked her slowly along the beach.
It was time for her to tell her story. She knew this in her heart. She shared how her heart had been abandoned, she shared her pain, she told him she didn’t feel worthy of the inheritance and she told him all of her sins and mistakes. He never wavered, he never seemed shocked, he never seemed angry and he never left her side. She told him of all her loss and pain and even showed him all her scars. Then she asked, “why do I deserve such an inheritance. I am nobody, I am broken, I’ve made mistakes and sinned and I have been damaged. Why me?” He looked into her eyes and asked her why she was out in the forest. She told him that it was because she was looking for someone to save her and she was looking for rest. She wandered into the forest, was caught in a storm and had curled up under the at tree. In tears she told him she had nothing to offer him to thank him for caring for her. The gentle man, wiped her tears with a scared hand and told her she didn’t need to pay him back.. he told her she’d already given him more than he could ever want. Shocked she asked what that was, as she nothing to offer. He said, “you gave all you had… you gave me your heart.” He lifted that small girl into his arms and held her close. And whispered, “you are not alone.”
When she gave up in her efforts to please, when she faced the storm, when she got lost and when she finally surrendered and laid down at the foot of that great tree with nothing but a threadbare red sweater and a stained green bow… she became a gift. That little girl in my heart gave up and when she did Jesus found her. He made her his own and she became the daughter of the king, a gift exchange like no other… her heart for his eternal kingdom.
All Jesus wants is all of us. Our hearts and minds. He came a long ways to gather us up in his arms and carry us to his Father’s love and inheritance. Won’t you give him the gift of you?