Little 4-year old Juan lived in Florida where there were way more palm trees than pines. Though “White Christmas” played often on the radio, Juan had never seen snow. His attention lately had been focused solely on the toy commercials he’d seen on TV.
Finally, the morning sun sparkled through his window (as it always did), and Juan remembered…it was Christmas! He bounded in and out of his Mom and Dad’s room, announcing the day, and headed straight to the plastic Christmas tree in the living room. Brightly wrapped packages of all shapes and sizes had appeared overnight and he could see his name written here and there on the tags.
Wrapping paper flew and smiles grew as Juan recognized toy after toy from the TV commercials. There were socks in one box and new shirts in another, but those were quickly tossed aside in anticipation of the next toy treasure. When the frenzy died down, his Mom said, “We saved the best one for last,” and she pulled a large flat box out from behind the tree.
Anticipating a huge Lego kit or new game, Juan ripped off the paper and tore into the box…where he paused. There was something blue and puffy in tissue paper. He thought it was the thickest fluffiest raincoat he had ever seen. As he wondered what he was supposed to do with it, his Mom pointed out a card with words on it at the bottom of the box. He knew the letters. S – K – I T – R – I – P. His Mom explained that they had planned a family trip where there would be mountains and lots of snow and it would be really, really cold so he would need this special coat.
Now Juan loved the sound of big mountains and snow, but having lived his whole life in Florida, he had no idea what “really, really cold” meant. He thought the puffy coat was dumb. The flat box was thrown aside as Juan went from new toy to new toy playing and creating new adventures for days, but January came and it was time to go on the trip. Juan hadn’t given the puffy coat a second thought since he had opened it, decided it wasn’t anything he needed, and pushed it away. But Mom had tucked it away in the closet and as they got ready to leave for the airport, she handed the puffy coat to him. “You’ll need this when we get off the plane,” she said. Juan pushed it away, whined something about not needing it and how he would look like a blue marshmallow in it, and ran to get his raincoat from the closet. He put it on, opened the door and stepped outside. “See, I’m not cold,” he said. His Mom decided not to fight this battle.
No, Juan wasn’t cold — not in the car ride to the airport nor on the airplane. And he didn’t pay much attention when the flight attendant announced that they’d be landing in Denver, Colorado shortly and the current temperature was 25 degrees with strong winds. But walking out of the airport in what amounted to a windbreaker against below freezing temperatures and something called “wind chill” definitely got his attention. The air took his breath away; it swirled around him like icy fingers trying to pull off the little light jacket that was no match for the conditions in which Juan suddenly found himself. He ran back into the airport for shelter faster than he had run out in his excitement, dragging his Mom and Dad with him.
His Mom had tried to tell him before, but he had refused to listen. Thankfully for Juan, his Mom had graciously still packed the warm, puffy coat which he now gladly put on. It wrapped around him in warmth and comfort. Having the right coat fully prepared Juan to step back out into this new adventure to enjoy his new beautiful world of mountains and snow for the week.
The Baby Jesus came at Christmas to bring us a special gift, too — the gift of salvation from our sin and of eternal life in a beautiful new world that is different from what we’re used to. Jesus was the first gift of Christmas…wrapped, not in bright colored paper, but in swaddling clothes. He came not just for the cradle, but for the cross, where he bought us the gift of salvation with His very life. Yet how many of us react to this gift like Juan reacted to his puffy coat? People have told us about it, but we refused to listen. We don’t think we’ll ever really need it because it doesn’t seem like we need it now. We’re getting by with what we have. So we push the gift away. We throw it aside as unimportant.
Thankfully for us, Jesus keeps it packed and continues to hold it out to us — over and over — even now — He offers His precious gift of the Coat of His Goodness, His Righteousness. He is waiting for you and me to reach out, take it from Him, and put it on…to allow Him to wrap us up in his warmth and comfort, His forgiveness, peace and love. Without it, we can never stand before God in the new adventure of Heaven, accepted.
If you or your loved ones still treating Jesus’ perfect gift of salvation like the puffy coat, I pray that this is the Christmas you choose to unwrap that gift and take it from Him for yourself…so that you are well prepared to step into abundant life here and eternal life with Him forever.
May your Christmas be full of warmth, peace, joy, love and many blessings!