Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gifts for Christmas ... Loss

I'm not sure I ever confessed to my parents that today's gift, a gift of "Loss," was one of my favorites ever. I think it was the same year I got my guitar, but it's hard to tell. In a young girl's mind, things do tend to run together, like whipped cream on hot brownies. I'll tell it as I remember it ...

At the time I think my older sister and I chalked the incident up to what we thought was "old age". Now I think my parents were actually quite young that year. ;) It was the year we finished opening up our gifts and my mom started looking around with a worried look on her face. It wasn't the only time it ever happened, and I wish I could say I've never done it, but ... well, history tends to repeat itself.

She began looking through discarded paper and bows, then got up to go rifle through seasonal piles, dig around in closets, and stare at my dad some more. "Tom?" she said. The search didn't turn up a thing. Finally, they had to break the news: they had lost one of our gifts, a matching pair of candy cane striped union suit pj's. You may think it was lucky for us that they lost the "who-like" pajamas and spared us the wearing, but I remember having a vivid picture of the illusive suits in my mind and really wanting to experience what it is to be in a suit with a "back door" while resembling a candy cane. It was not to be. They were lost.

What happened next, though, is what made the "never received gift" so meaningful and so memorable. My dad left. He went to the dump.

He went to the dump and searched for those candy cane striped union suits. He went to search through the leavings of recent Thanksgiving feasts, piles of holiday party wrappings, chunks of fruitcake and egg nog cartons, and other assorted garbage that I imagined was being circled by a group of grinch-like vultures.

The dump is a place no one "wants" to go. You only go there if you throw away a diamond ring or something. How the garbage got there? I didn't want to think about. I just remember seeing the "mountain" in the distance and smelling a faint odor of sour sandwiches and socks on hot summer days when we happened to drive too close to the wretched place. No one goes to the dump willingly. (I think it's developed into a recreational park now ... on top of dump mountain.)

But my dad went willingly. He went there to find our gifts. He never did find them, and I never got a union suit with a back door. The closest I came to a candy cane suit was when I was an "elf" for a week before Christmas at the mall. But the fact that my dad went to the dump to search for the lost gift meant the world to me. My dad loved me enough to go to the dump for me. Wow. THAT's love. That's the gift that came because of the loss.

It might not seem to begin to compare, but I imagine that as hard as it must've been for my earthly dad to go hunting at the dump, it was an even greater gift of love that my Heavenly Father was willing to send His Son down to a place of filth to find what was lost and redeem it as only He could. Isaiah 53 foretells the beautiful story of One who so loved us that He experienced the worst the world had to offer in order to uncover His own.

People will read the story in weeks to come and call it a "manger," but I know it was really just a "dump," and Jesus went there to get back the life He purchased for me. THAT's love.

3 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Erin said...

Love it! Love the pj story. (What is it with those back-door jammies that we find so fun?) Our Heavenly Father must have really loved us to send His Son to a dying world. I can't even wrap my brain around a love that big.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed that story. Thanks for sharing. Nice Blog too!



Anonymous said...

I have memories of a story very, very similiar to yours, Julie ;-)
I always refer to it as the "footy pajamas"!!! More importantly, I'm so very grateful the Lord redeemed me from sin and death as you said. We have so much to rejoice about at Christmas!!! Jenny C.