If you ask Kalinda what she is asking Santa to bring her this Christmas, she will smile broadly and, chuckling with anticipation, let you know that she is hoping for candy canes! That’s it. JUST candy canes.
In the weeks since she first presented us with her Christmas “list,” I have been waiting for her to add to it. She hasn’t. This Christmas she really is hoping for nothing more and nothing less than candy canes. Charleston finds this hilarious and somewhat shocking: “Mom! I mean, can you believe that all she wants is candy canes!? She doesn’t even know how much she might be missing out on! She has no idea what she can get from Santa!”
Charleston is right, of course. While I can appreciate the restraint in Kali’s request, I doubt it’s intentional: she isn’t asking for more because she doesn’t understand how much more could be available to her. I love that she would be content to receive a box of candy canes beneath the tree this Christmas; I would also love to bless her with more than a sugary treat on Christmas morning.
I’ve been pondering Kali and her humble Christmas list, wondering what lesson might be here for me about us and God and the requests we make of Him. Is it possible that we, like Kali, are unnecessarily limiting the Gift Giver?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded His disciples that the Father gives good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11); the Lord WANTS to bless us with good things, He is just waiting for us to present our requests. I can’t help but wonder how often God is hoping to bless us with a treasure trove beneath our metaphorical Christmas trees, yet we contentedly nibble at candy canes, oblivious to our missed opportunity for so much more. Or perhaps, even more tragically, those gifts have been given yet we fail to notice them through our candy-induced haze.
Our God is SO GREAT and His blessings are so enormous that we don’t know to ask for them, and don’t always recognize them when they have been given. We trifle with earthly requests and quibble over temporal desires; meanwhile, an entire Heavenly Kingdom of riches awaits.
Today is Thanksgiving, a day devoted to gratitude and a spirit of appreciation. On this day we pause to give thanks to our Lord for His many blessings—only a small fraction of which we can see and understand. There are the “small” gifts that are easily recognized: food on our tables, roofs over our heads, laughter shared over an after-dinner game of charades, the fuzzy Christmas pajamas we will slip into at bedtime tonight. There are the bigger things to be grateful for, too, like the health of the family members surrounding us, and the freedom to gather together for a day of celebration and worship.
And then there are Kingdom blessings with which the Lord has gifted us, but which we may not regularly acknowledge: the free gift of our salvation, the faithful presence of the Holy Spirit, the promise of eternity in paradise, and the wisdom and guidance offered in Scripture. And these are just the gifts we know He has bestowed upon us. I am certain there are more: divinely appointed circumstances, and abundant spiritual giftings, and seemingly inconsequential instances with enormous implications, and an awaiting eternity that is infinitely better than we imagine it will be—these are the gifts the Lord has given us that we didn’t know to ask for, but that He (in His sovereignty and goodness) knew to give us.
Today I am thankful for every one of these gifts, those I see and those I don’t, those I asked for and those that went above and beyond what I knew to request.
Don’t tell Kali, but I plan to have a talk with Santa about his plans for her this Christmas. I have a feeling she will be getting those candy canes she’s hoping for; but that jolly old elf has even grander plans for helping make her Christmas morning a dream come true. I know she would be grateful for a bit of sugar; I hope her gratitude will grow when she sees she has been given even more than candy this Christmas. I hope and pray that I, too, will always be grateful for every gift from above, no matter how small, while remaining increasingly grateful for the greater and grander gifts only God would know to give.
Thank you, Father, for your many gifts and blessings. May we remain forever mindful of all you have given us, and may a song of thanksgiving flow through us today and all year long.